Research institute set to focus on efficient energy storage

Leeds University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have formed a joint research institute to develop next-generation energy storage systems.

The institute — a collaboration between the Institute of Particle Science & Engineering at Leeds University and the Institute of Process Engineering (IPE) at CAS — will focus on thermal- and mechanical-based energy storage technologies.

According to a statement, nearly 50 researchers will work on research projects with an overall budget of £4m.

The projects will aim to develop and test new materials and processes for energy storage and explore methods for transferring and using energy more efficiently in both domestic settings and industry.

The initiative will help researchers to access funding opportunities in China, the UK, the European Union and other international sources, according to Leeds University’s Prof Yulong Ding, the first director of the joint research institute.

‘We aim to recruit high-quality postgraduate students, produce joint publications and joint intellectual property and drive knowledge transfer,’ said Ding.

One of the first activities of the joint institute will be to set up a scheme that will allow PhD students in the institute to move between Leeds and Beijing. This exchange programme will allow the students to spend time in the different labs to progress their research and benefit from the expertise and facilities of the two partner organisations.

‘The joint research combines the strengths of the two technically complementary organisations, which will promote the fast transfer of knowledge in the energy storage area and drive new technologies out of the lab and into the market,’ said Prof Suojiang Zhang, director of the IPE.

The two partners have worked together on projects for many years but this is the first time they have agreed to co-ordinate and combine their resources.

Finding more effective and efficient ways to store energy is becoming increasingly important to deal with the problem of peak demand on electricity grids. The ability to store excess energy generated from wind or solar generation is also a pressing problem.