Energy Safety Research Institute establishes Innovation Hub

The Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University has announced the creation of the ESRI Innovation Hub on the site of the Bay Studios Business Park, Swansea.

The Innovation Hub has been created to implement the manufacture of industrial demonstration level technology within the Swansea/Port Talbot Region, where industry accounts for the highest percentage of carbon emissions, but is also responsible for the social and economic welfare of a significant portion of the population.

This announcement is in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the urgency of climate change (Monday 8 October) and the UK’s goal to be leaders in the international challenge to remove carbon from emissions.

ESRI Founder and Director Prof Andrew Barron said: 

The rapid development, demonstration and deployment of a broad range of technologies that enable significant and meaningful reduction in carbon emissions is this generation’s Apollo moment. If there is one challenge facing humanity that impacts humanity’s social, health, and economic future, this is it.”

‌The IPCC report states that keeping global temperature rise under the 1.5 °C target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement is becoming an increasingly difficult target, and that the world is now heading instead towards 3 °C.

Carbon emissionsThe report suggests that urgent, large-scale changes from governments and individuals will be required along with investment over the next two decades to provide momentous changes in energy, land use, cities, and industry.

Key to the future is the fact that global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, with global net zero emissions by 2050.

To reach this, renewables are estimated to provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050, while coal usage is expected to reduce to close to zero.

400 x 157The gap between Research and the Commercial Market, often called the Valley of Death, represents a key technology inhibitor, especially for technologies where the economic value of ‘doing the right thing’ is not easy to determine without a scaled demonstration unit for evaluation by multiple industries.

The ESRI Innovation Hub has been created to focus efforts in building high technology readiness level (TRL) demonstrators.

Find out about the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI)

Professor Barron added:

“The time for academic discussion as to ‘the possible’ and ‘laboratory scale investigations’ is over; we now need to put our ideas into action. There is no single solution to the problem and not all technologies will be successfully adopted, but given that the lead-time for technology adoption is often significant, we need to create the information that will enable early adoption, rather than waiting for someone else to solve the problem.”

Initial technology demonstrators being constructed within the ESRI Innovation Hub are funded by the £9.2 million Reduced Industrial Carbon Emissions (RICE) initiative, which is supported by £5.9 million from the European Union:

  • The conversion of CO2 from industrial emissions to high value chemicals that are ordinarily sources via oil production, as well as creating alternative protein food sources without the methane emissions associated with traditional food production.
  • New electrolyser designs that enable hydrogen production from wasted green energy (wind, wave, solar) as an alternative to present hydrogen production from natural gas with its associated CO2 emissions.
  • The scalable development of CO2 separation materials and systems technologies to develop ‘bespoke’ solution for a wide range of industries with a desire to reduce carbon emissions.

In addition, successful scaling of low-fouling membrane systems for low energy industrial wastewater re-use has been accomplished, while conversion of waste non-recyclable plastics to high value carbon nanomaterials (normally produced from natural gas) and materials to enable very large scale CO2 sequestration is being developed.

Initial academic partners in the ESRI Innovation Hub are the University of South Wales and the University of South Carolina, USA, while present industrial partners include: Tata Steel UK, Apache Corporation, Glass Technology Services (GTS), eCORP International, Very Large Scale Decarbonization Partners, and eCORP Stimulation Technologies.‌

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