Sustainable energy research applications and solutions
Submitting InstitutionStaffordshire University
Unit of AssessmentGeneral Engineering
Summary Impact TypeEnvironmental
Research Subject Area(s)
Engineering: Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Interdisciplinary Engineering
Summary of the impact
This case study describes interdisciplinary impacts developed from
research of the Sustainable Energy theme. They examine conversion of
energy from alternative sources; from power generation using pyrolysis or
biomass burners to energy harvesting of waste heat from electronic
components. In all cases the aim is clear: to develop systems that make
sustainable energy production a reality. This has important impacts in
advancing efficiency and reliability in renewable energy technologies.
Importantly, through a number of externally funded projects, this group's
members have directly influenced local, national and international
companies and governmental bodies. In some cases influencing decisions and
having direct impact on efficiency, value from investment and even on
balance sheets. In summary, they have conducted numerous energy audits,
produced a minimum of 6 best practice case studies, influenced the
renewable strategies of at least 52 countries, regions or industries and
are recognised as the centre for biomass fuel quality assessment.
This case study developed from a series of innovative projects.
Traditionally Al-Shemmeri conducted research in the thermo-fluids
discipline. In the 1990's he conducted research with the Jordanian
government looking at using multi-criteria decision making for the ranking
of water projects . Following this individual change of direction and
the scientific community's recognition of the importance of environmental
factors the group's focus changed to the examination of renewables per se.
This culminated in Al-Shemmeri et al. building expertise around
research on the design of sustainable energy sources and a number of
related areas of renewable energy [2,3,4]; the setting up of the Centre
for Energy Efficient Systems; and founding of two new research
laboratories in biomass and thin film organic photo-voltaics. The quantum
modelling (with Harvard) provides some theoretical underpinning to PV
The impacts discussed in this case study are based on research that
commenced in 2002 through a series of externally funded programmes in
collaboration with Talbotts Heating Ltd, and Bowman Power.
ETSU Grant No.375/8, value £357,859
30 kWe Biomass Fuelled Indirect Fired Micro Turbine conducted between
November 2002 and October 2004.
DTI Contract B/T/00809/00/00, value £1,000,000
100 kWe Biomass Fuelled Indirect Fired Micro Turbine conducted between
October 2004 and October 2006.
DTI Contract TP/7/LOW/6/S/M0520F, value £500,000
10kWe biomass indirect fired CHP system conducted between September 2007
and August 2009.
Historically the research started with the design and development of heat
exchangers for use in biomass systems and the development of a biomass
fuelled turbine-generator set. However this work soon developed to the
examination of the biomass and alternative fuel systems themselves and the
fuels they rely upon . Associated with this was the development of
unique expertise in the energy audits of existing systems with a view to
improving overall system efficiency. Recent work includes areas such as
the testing of biomass solids in system performance, the performance and
emissions evaluation of absorption refrigeration cooling from biomass
waste heat, and biodiesel blending impacts on emissions and efficiency
[3,4,5]. This unique expertise led to the group being invited to lead the
ARBOR project; a collaboration of European partners examining and
influencing the supply chain in the biomass market. This project has led
to the team becoming the central point for the testing of the quality of
biomass fuels within the EU, and the building of unique full size biomass
demonstrator units at Staffordshire University and other regional sites.
Members of this team have supported externally funded cross-university
projects; these have been targeted at spreading the economic benefits
message of renewables to European member states, regions and, more
recently, to specific communities such as Senior Citizens.
Parallel work has focused on wind energy and rotating machine design to
minimise energy loss. Current work also covers energy harvesting using
thermoelectric technology and the development of new thermoelectric
materials (including novel organic semiconductor PV systems in the new AWM
sponsored Thin Film Laboratory) , and novel device structures. This
area of research crosses boundaries with that in medical engineering.
References to the research
1. Al-Kloub, B., Al-Shemmeri, T., & Pearman, A. (1997). The role of
weights in multi-criteria decision aid, and the ranking of water projects
in Jordan. European Journal of Operational Research, 99(2),
2. Al-Shemmeri, T.T. and Oberweis, S. (2011) Correlation of the NOx
emission and exhaust gas temperature for biodiesel, Applied Thermal
Engineering, 31, 1682-1688.
3. Oberweis, S. and Al-Shemmeri, T.T. (2012) Emissions and performance
from a biomass boiler for different solid biomass fuels, International
Journal of Renewable Energy Technology, 3(4), 323-340.
4. Oberweis, S., Al-Shemmeri, T.T. (2011) Emissions and Performance of a
Stationary Diesel Engine run on Biodiesel Blends, International
Journal of Oil, Gas and Coal Technology, 4(4), 375-386.
5. OBERWEIS, Sacha and AL-SHEMMERI, Tarik (2009) Design of a 20kW
Biomass Heat Generator: CFD Modelling and Dissociation. VDM,
Saarbruecken (Germany). ISBN 978-3-639-15922-6
6. Oklobia, O and Shafai TS (2013). A quantitative study of the formation
of PCBM clusters upon thermal annealing of P3HT/PCBM bulk heterojunction
solar cell. Journal of Applied Physics.
Details of the impact
- Over the previous five years, this group's research has led to
improved performance and the development of new technologies for
business (e.g GDM Rugeley; Woodwaste, Stafford; and ALSTHOM) [1-10].
- Research expertise has been central in securing and leading an
INTERREG IVB biomass for energy project (Accelerating Renewable Energies
through Valorisation of Biogenic Organic Raw Materials - ARBOR) [1,4,5]:
a partnership of thirteen organisations [1,4,5] in Belgium, Germany,
Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Its aim: to accelerate the
sustainable development and use of biomass in the region in order to
facilitate the achievement of EU 2020 energy objective related to the
introduction of renewable energy sources and their utilisation.
- One of the main impacts is the development of 5 industrial scale
demonstrator units (UK, UK, NL, NL, BE circa €3million) whose designs
are influenced, heavily, by this group; but which in turn will heavily
influence the EU biomass industry .
Working closely with innovative energy businesses, research led guidance
to bodies such as small leisure centres to governments [1-10] has been
provided or conducted.
- The research group conducts biomass fuel quality testing for European
industry and government bodies (circa 100 batches per annum) [1,4,5].
- The technical knowledge and experience has been recognised by the EU
with the newly formed European Centre of Excellence for Biomass .
To date several institutions have taken their advice and have changed
practice or have invested in new facilities for example Eccleshall Biomass
, Agripellets [1,3], and Staffordshire County Council.
- Directly this group has influenced the products of 14 regional and
international industries: Four Ashes, Agripellets, Eccleshall biomass,
Green bio-diesel, Talbott Energy, wood waste Stafford, Lower Reule
Bioenergy, GDM, Institute for Future Energy Systems (DE), Inagro (Be),
Zero Head Turbine (UK), BioGas hub (NL), Agri-Park (NL), Short Rotation
Coppice (BE) [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8].
- The work conducted by this group has influenced the work of other
researchers; to date 29 publications have been produced .
- The research has been cited in over 47 other publications.
Impacts on public policy and services
- Members of CEES are providing the Secretariat for the Energy and
Environmental Technologies Cluster  as well as academic
representation on the National Physical Laboratory Thermoelectric
Materials Industrial Advisory Group.
- 79 scientists, engineers and politicians (including the Egyptian
Under-Minister for energy) trained in Energy Auditing and Renewable
Energy Strategies 
- 6 country's MEPs and [1,2,3,4,5,7,8];
- 4UK and 3 EU local authorities/regions have received training and
- This group has also provided technical tendering support in the area
of renewable energy councils and authorities in Staffordshire.
Impacts on society, culture and creativity
- The research team have provided training for countries as well as
local regions; notably including advising the local MP (the then
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Energy and
Climate Change), and the Egyptian Under Minister for Energy .
- Pre 2008 they were senior advisors for founding of Stafford SRB
- Beginners guide to renewable energy practice [2,6,7,8]
Impacts on Health
- Learning guides have been developed for Senior Citizens 
- Working with social care groups for renewable energy updating 
- Senior Engagement in the Green Economy -SEE Green, c €400k  -
(Grundtvig, Lifelong Learning Programme), aimed to improve the knowledge
of energy efficiency practice and schemes amongst Europe's senior
Impacts on practitioners and professional services
- A new handbook for energy audits has been published by J Wiley &
Sons Ltd .
- Directly influenced universities, for example: UCD Dublin, Harper
Adams, Aston, Swansea, NL, Gent (BE), Saarland (DE) [3,4,5,6,7,8,9].
The research is interdisciplinary and several cross-university projects
use the expertise of this group.
- This group supports RESCO (Renewable Energy Supply Chain Opportunities
managed by the University's IESR), an ex-poste evaluation of the project
has shown that it successfully provided a forum for helping business to
develop and change their relationship with renewable energy
Impacts on the environment
The group have contributed to:
- RETS (Renewable Energies Transfer Systems) project  - an INTERREG
IVC programme (€2million) - focused on specialist knowledge transfer in
renewable energy for small to medium-sized municipal authorities across
- and SHAP (the Sustainable Housing Action Partnership) .
- Finally, CERES (an EU TEMPUS Programme €1.1million) whose aim is to
assist in the development of a higher education renewable energy centre
of excellence in Egypt .
- The group has completed over 100 energy audits for businesses across
- 6 Best Practice Case studies for the UK developed by this group.
- The group measures the quality of biomass fuels for the EU biomass
Sources to corroborate the impact
. ARBOR project - www.arbornwe.eu
. Al-Shemmeri, T. (2002) Biomass to energy: project feasibility study,
Confidential Report to the Biomass and Renewable Energy Business
Support Project Steering Group - includes confidential data on
Eccleshall Biomass Limited.
. RESCO project: http://www.resco.org.uk
. Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor, Luxembourg:
"The unique work Staffordshire University has carried out for us has
allowed us to determine the benefits of removing dust from Miscanthus
straw prior to combustion. The fuel quality assessment and energy
density determination has proven this to be a viable technology in
addition to the reduction in dust related issues during delivery and
storage." (Contact Identifier 1)
. Flemish manure association, Belgium:
"The work Staffodshire Unviersity has carried out for us has allowed
us to determine feasibility of using chicken and pig manure as well as
digestates for combustion purposes. In particular the ash content has
helped us understand the potential problems this could cause on small
scale combustors." (Contact Identifier 2)
. SEE GREEN project http://www.see-green.eu/seegreensite/en/
. RETS project http://www.rets-project.eu/
. CERES project http://ceres.egeu-fund.org/
. Staffordshire University database of outputs
. Localecon Associates, Staffordshire. (Contact Identifier 3)