Energy impact case studies

All EMRP projects engage widely with the user communities who will benefit from the research. For the Energy EMRP projects, this included energy generators and distributors, large scale users and key process equipment and instrumentation suppliers as well as the relevant technical committees and working groups in the standardisation community. Here we highlight a selection of early examples of the impact generated by these projects.

Future-proofing Europe’s gas networks

Michell Instruments, a leading supplier of humidity instrumentation, has developed a novel optical device to measure water content specifically for the gas industry. Working with the EMRP project Characterisation of energy gases, Michell Instruments used a new humidity facility developed as part of the project to evaluate the instrument’s performance at the highest levels of accuracy relevant to their target market. This not only gave Michell confidence in the product’s performance but also provided robust evidence to support their marketing and sales activities.

The product was launched in 2014 and has been installed in a number of locations worldwide. The improved performance of Michell’s instrument offers network operators improved confidence in the quality of gas they buy and sell while avoiding unnecessary and costly drying processes before the gas is injected into the network.  Besides improving efficiency and confidence across Europe’s existing gas networks, the new instrument paves the way for a range of gas mixtures, readying the network for a more renewable, secure gas future.

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Energy harvesting for greener transport

German manufacturer, Netzsch, has developed a precision instrument for measuring electrical conductivity and the Seebeck coefficient – a material property which strongly influences the efficiency and power output of a thermoelectric generator. Netzsch is marketing the instrument with a new reference material developed in the EMRP project Metrology for energy harvesting. Together, these products enable automotive manufacturers to reliably assess the performance of thermoelectric materials developed for use in energy harvesting devices.

The reference material will give Netzsch’s customers confidence that the thermal efficiency measurements they make agree with national standards in place to ensure accuracy and consistency, enabling potential customers to better compare products. Netzsch’s product provides the measurement capability needed to accelerate development and uptake of improved thermoelectric generators within the automotive industry. By making Europe’s vehicles more efficient, energy harvesting technology has the potential to reduce one of the most significant contributions to Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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Diversifying Europe's energy supply

The EMRP project Metrology for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) developed a new primary flow standard. This will be used to provide traceability to the mid-scale LNG calibration facility, enabling flow meters used in the transfer and sale of LNG to be calibrated with top-class accuracy under typical operating conditions. Guidance documents issued by the International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML) are currently undergoing revision to include a new section on LNG transfer flow metering developed within the project. Project interactions with ISO standard committees is enabling the inclusion of LNG measurements and flow metering systems into the documentary standards that underpin the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers Handbook used throughout the LNG industry.

This infrastructure will help to ensure fair and open trade of LNG, reducing financial risks and resulting in more stable energy prices. Increased adoption of LNG, which is more economical to transport over large distances and facilitates the supply of natural gas from new sources, could play a major role in diversifying Europe’s energy supply.

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Supporting smart renewable energy

With support from South Dublin City Council, the International Energy Research Centre (IERV - National Tyndall Institute), Siemens, Intel and Microsoft, the Micro Electricity Generation Association (MEGA) is piloting a ‘smart energy cluster’ in the outskirts of Dublin, which links small-scale renewable energy generators with local consumers through a smart grid. MEGA’s smart cluster distributes locally-generated wind and biogas power using a power stabiliser incorporating a PMU, which links the cluster to the main grid system and allows inflow of power when renewable generation cannot meet local demand.

Through engagement with the EMRP project Metrology for smart electrical grids, MEGA received help evaluating the smart cluster’s PMU and best practice guidance to enable accurate grid stability monitoring. Support from the project will help to ensure a reliable power supply to users of MEGA’s smart cluster and the success of the pilot project. MEGA hopes to eventually interconnect local small-scale smart grids into a citywide system for Dublin. This will be an important step towards widespread renewable energy generation in Ireland and a more stable, low-carbon energy future for Europe.

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Smart, stable grids for a greener Europe

The EMRP project Metrology for smart electrical grids developed calibration equipment, software and processes that enable phasor measurement units (PMUs) – the ‘life support monitors’ of smart grids – to be validated against traceable measurement standards for the first time in Europe. Tests of PMUs in operational grids in Greece and Sweden resulted in best practice guidelines for PMU use, which have been incorporated into a revision of the relevant IEEE standard used by the industry.

Fluke Corporation, a manufacturer of testing and calibration equipment, has introduced a PMU calibrator based partly on the methods developed in the project. The calibrator enables operators to demonstrate compliance with the revised IEEE standard, and confidently compare PMU measurements across the grid, safe in the knowledge that all devices produce consistent and robust measurements. Arbiter Systems, a manufacturer of precision timing and power measurement devices, is introducing an improved and cheaper combined PMU and power quality measurement instrument for smart grids following involvement in the project. Grid operators will be able to use Arbiter’s new device to demonstrate compliance with the revised IEEE standard, and make reliable grid stability measurements at an affordable price.

Increased access to cost-effective calibration services and devices, such as these, will help operators ensure the stability of smart grids and accelerate their adoption in Europe, supporting widespread renewable energy generation and a more stable, low-carbon energy future for Europe.

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New standard for safer, greener roads

The Italian standards organisation (UNI) has incorporated research performed within the EMRP project Metrology for solid-state lighting into a new standard for the illumination of road tunnels, optimizing the lighting requirements in the tunnel internal zone and at night.

The new UNI standard enables the safe introduction of LED lighting into Italian road tunnels and has enabled a significant reduction in the consumption of electrical power for tunnel lighting. LEDs operating at the new safe lighting levels identified within the project have contributed a further 33 % saving in electricity consumption. With LED lighting already introduced into approximately 95 % of Italy’s 1,500 km of highway road tunnel network, this standard will lead to safer roads with significantly reduced power consumption and associated CO2 emissions.  

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Improving power plant efficiency

KROHNE, a leading manufacturer of industrial process instrumentation, has developed a new improved ultrasonic flow meter to monitor power plant processes. Through participation in the EMRP project Metrology for improved power plant efficiency, KROHNE used a newly-developed meter design together with a calibration device developed within the EMRP project. This calibration device simulates typical plant operating conditions to demonstrate the meter’s accuracy. The validation of the technology using the new calibration device provided KROHNE with the impetus and confidence to start production of the ultrasonic flow meter.

E.ON, another project collaborator, has purchased and installed KROHNE’s device in a nuclear power plant in Sweden for evaluation, in part due to the promising results of the project. Preliminary indications are that efficiencies in plant operation resulting from the device’s use would be equivalent to around 60 MW, approximately the amount of electricity required to power thousands of extra homes. This is a significant improvement in plant efficiency, and given Europe’s dependence on large-scale power plants for the foreseeable future, an important contribution to the efforts to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint.

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Next-generation nuclear power

The EMRP project Metrology for new generation nuclear power plants developed, tested and patented a new temperature sensor, capable of operating at temperatures up to 1300 °C . Unlike previous instruments, these sensors can be used to ensure the safety and reliability of upcoming Generation IV nuclear reactors, which operate at higher temperatures to offer increased electricity production with reduced waste reprocessing requirements. The Idaho National Laboratory in the US recently held a comparative laboratory test campaign between several conventional thermocouples and a new one developed in the project at the University of Cambridge to select viable temperature sensors for its upcoming Very High Temperature Reactor fuel test validation. Following the lab test campaign Dr Michele Scervini from the University of Cambridge was awarded the opportunity to test the new sensor in Idaho’s prototype reactor, one of only a few facilities of its sort in the world.

Testing will assess the new sensor’s performance in the high radioactivity and temperature environment of Generation IV reactors. This will provide the validation needed to encourage the sensor’s adoption by the conservative nuclear industry, paving the way to next generation nuclear power plants and stable, low carbon energy for Europe.

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Supporting biofuel-ready vehicles

The EMRP project Metrology for biofuels developed a reference method for determining the pH value of the most commonly used biofuel, bioethanol (pHe). This serves as a best practice example for measuring pHe, which can be used as a quick and simple indicator of bioethanol’s corrosiveness - a property of crucial concern for engine manufacturers. These practices have since been incorporated into a new ISO standard, enabling users to make pHe measurements of the highest accuracy and reliably compare them across the world.

This will enable researchers to confidently assess the corrosive effects of bioethanol on materials being developed for use in next-generation engines, built to withstand biofuel blends. Accelerating the development of biofuel-ready engines, and encouraging consumer confidence, is an important step towards widespread adoption of biofuels and meeting the obligations of the Renewable Energy Directive, which requires 10 % of the transport fuel of every EU country to come from renewable sources such as biofuels.

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