In the words of the big beasty itself:
The Carbon Trust has awarded more than £1 million of funding to seven pioneering technologies at the cutting-edge of the UK’s carbon reduction innovation work. The financial support will speed the technologies’ development through to commercial reality and accelerate the UK’s move to a low carbon economy.
Projects including a new generation of LEDs, energy efficient kilns and steam trap performance sensors have all received financial backing from the Carbon Trust’s Applied Research scheme. Over the past four years the Carbon Trust has invested more than £17 million in projects that have demonstrated their potential to develop into viable commercial technologies that could reduce UK carbon emissions.
The seven projects to receive funding from the Carbon Trust are:
* Aluminium smelting technology with the potential to reduce energy consumption by up to 20% – Coventry University
* Technology to explode paint into moulds, eliminating the need for paint shops in the manufacture of plastic components – Warwick Manufacturing Group
* Energy efficient kilns, which could reduce the energy used in the manufacture of ceramics – Horizon Ceramics
* Natural ventilation systems for large buildings with the potential of halving the energy used by conventional mechanically ventilated buildings – e-stack Ltd.
* Testing of new fully automated biomass combined heat and power unit – Biomass CHP Ltd.
* Steam trap performance sensors with the potential for reducing carbon emissions by more than 750,000 tonnes over ten years – Spirax Sarco Ltd.
* New generation of ultra bright LEDs with improved life expectancy and massive carbon savings over traditional lighting – GlowLed Ltd.
Garry Staunton, Head of Low Carbon Research at the Carbon Trust, said: “The diverse nature of these technologies clearly demonstrates the exciting low carbon innovation work taking place in the UK today. These technologies have the potential to make significant carbon savings and to be commercially very successful.”
“The Carbon Trust’s Applied Research scheme aims to speed promising low carbon technologies towards commercial reality and large scale deployment. These technologies will play a vital part in moving the UK towards a low carbon economy. The application process is rigorous so successful projects are to be congratulated on securing support from the Carbon Trust.”
The Applied Research scheme requires that each project pass a thorough application process and must secure additional funding from alternative sources. A new call for proposals is now open until 17th August 2007 at 5pm. Applications can be made online at www.carbontrust.co.uk.
The Carbon Trust
* The Carbon Trust is a private company set up by government in response to the threat of climate change, to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. The Carbon Trust works with UK business and the public sector to create practical business-focused solutions through its external work in five complementary areas: insights, solutions, innovations, enterprises and investments. Together these help to explain, deliver, develop, create and finance low carbon enterprise.
* The Carbon Trust is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR), the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Government and Invest NI.
* For more information on the Carbon Trust visit www.carbontrust.co.uk or call the Carbon Trust Advice Line on 0800 085 2005.
Details of the successful projects follow.
Coventry University – aluminium smelting – awarded £150,000
All modern primary aluminium smelting takes place using the Hall-Heroult process. This is extremely energy intensive and is estimated to consume about 2% of all electricity generated worldwide. It involves passing an electric current through molten aluminium oxide which must be stabilised with a magnetic field to prevent a short circuit. This project is developing a new type of magnetic field which will provide greater stability and, modelling indicates, could reduce energy consumption by 5-20%.
In the UK, primary aluminium smelting consumes 4.98TWh (Terawatt-hours) of electricity and produces 2.1 million tonnes of carbon. Reducing electricity consumption by as little as 5% would reduce carbon emissions by 105,000 tonnes.
Warwick Manufacturing Group – exploding paint coating process – awarded £250,000
Paint shops are very energy intensive because of the ventilation fans and heat required in the painting process. One vehicle manufacturer estimates that about 50% of the fuel used in its assembly plants is used in paint shops. The overall objective of this project is to eliminate the need for paint shops in the manufacture of plastic components.
The process under development is much more energy efficient and works by effectively exploding paint into a mould to provide a coat on the plastic which is injected a few seconds later. This creates an even-depth finish and avoids the spread of toxic compounds which can cause health and environmental problems.
Horizon Ceramics – energy efficient kilns – awarded £114,183
The manufacture of ceramics is an energy intensive process because of the high temperatures required. Traditionally, ceramics kilns have a high thermal mass, meaning they absorb a lot of heat. Although over the last 20 years attempts have been made to develop kilns with low thermal mass, the ceramic fibre used tends to degrade leading to hazardous airborne dust and a loss of structural integrity. This project is developing a manufacturing process for an interlocking system of ceramic modules with a highly insulating infill that will create a much more energy efficient kiln.
e-stack Ltd. – natural ventilation for big buildings – awarded £75,000
Natural ventilation systems typically consume less than half the energy of conventional, mechanically ventilated buildings. A substantial part of the UK’s commercial building stock comprises large interior spaces, such as open-plan offices or auditoria. To use natural ventilation in these spaces requires multiple units. This project will install and test a series of ventilation units at a new large school hall at Unity College, Northampton. It will investigate control issues arising from the complex pattern of air flows through different stacks.
Biomass CHP Ltd. – making biomass gas a viable energy source – awarded £50,000
To date, biomass combined heat and power (CHP) units have not been able to compete against fossil-fuel-fired CHP units or biomass combustion systems due to a lack of reliability and commercial operating data. The technology needs to be fully automated to be commercially viable. This project will install and evaluate an advanced gas-cleaning and computerised engine management system for a biomass CHP unit on a site in Northern Ireland.
Spirax Sarco Ltd. – steam traps – awarded £150,000
Steam is widely used for heating in manufacturing processes. By monitoring and improving the performance of steam traps (which remove condensate from a system without allowing steam to escape), less fuel is required by the boiler and hence carbon emissions are reduced. The objective of this project is to develop a steam trap performance sensor that will be economic enough to be used more widely than existing systems. With progressive installation of these sensors on all steam traps in the UK (there are roughly 600,000 traps in the UK), it is estimated that carbon emissions will be reduced by more than 750,000 tonnes over ten years.
GlowLed Ltd. – the next generation of LEDs – awarded £225,000
LEDs are light sources that consume about 10% of the electricity used by conventional lighting. This project is developing and testing an ultra-bright light emitting diode (LED) lamp, which will deliver an improvement in light output, life expectancy and efficiency. With lighting such a ubiquitous energy consumer, there is obviously massive potential for carbon savings.