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December 20, 2013

Renewable Energy Project Plugs Into HPC Wales

Dec. 20 — The UK’s largest distributed supercomputing network, HPC Wales, has secured a lucrative contract to provide its services to an international research project, seeking to expand the lifetime of batteries powered by renewable energy. The contract, worth £100,000 and creating two new jobs, will see HPC Wales supporting a research project examining stationary batteries, required to meet the demands of the energy industry and play a key role within the national electrical grid.

The SIRBATT (Stable Interfaces for Rechargeable Batteries) Project, led by Liverpool University, is a three-year European-funded collaboration between six universities and five private sector companies across Europe.

As part of international efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, power companies have turned to renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar. However, the power supplied by these sources is intermittent, as it depends on external variables, so researchers are examining new methods of storing energy and releasing it on demand.

Scientists believe that rechargeable batteries could be a solution to this problem, with lithium-ion batteries able to provide uninterruptible power supply and high-quality power and distribution. However, SIRBATT researchers believe their current shelf life needs to be extended by at least five times, at a price point that is ultimately affordable by the energy industry.

Currently available batteries – used to offer extended levels of power during times of high demand, or as a backup power source during a blackout – only last up to five years on average, and the high cost to replace the units is covered by the taxpayer.

The SIRBATT project will explore the issues that currently limit the lifespan of batteries used in stationary battery storage. Using supercomputing, powered by HPC Wales, for modeling and simulation purposes, the project will perform advanced calculations to isolate the chemical processes that cause the battery to degrade. Researchers will then seek to provide a preventative solution to ensure the longer life of lithium-ion batteries in the future.

The collaboration brings together a wide range of research expertise in the study of both practical and theoretical battery physics.

Dr. Gilberto Teobaldi, at Liverpool University’s Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy and Department of Chemistry, said:

“As it stands, the lifespan of a lithium-ion battery needs to be increased by at least a factor of five for the batteries to become a competitive, affordable solution to the renewable energy industry. Given the limited knowledge of the factors responsible for their short lifespan, this research is of fundamental importance. We want to make green energy cheaper and more accessible to everyone. Hopefully our research, which involves innovative modeling methods, will help us get closer to achieving our goal.”

David Craddock, Chief Executive Officer of HPC Wales, said:

“We are delighted to announce our new contract with Liverpool University, bringing further inward investment into Wales for the purchase of technological facilities. With the support of supercomputing, the SIRBATT project will make crucial progress in the creation of longer-lasting green energy resources in the UK for everyone. As HPC Wales’ network can be accessed remotely, increasing numbers of businesses and academics are benefiting from its power, and we hope more will follow suit in the next 12months.”

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, HPC Wales is committed to boosting the Welsh economy by providing academic researchers and businesses with some of the most advanced computing technology in the world.

About HPC Wales

High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales is Wales’ national supercomputing service provider. Host to the UK’s largest distributed supercomputing network, HPC Wales provides businesses and researchers with local access to world-class technology, as well as the support and training necessary to fully exploit it. HPC Wales is a unique collaboration between Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff University, Swansea University, the University of South Wales and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

HPC Wales’ distributed infrastructure includes two Hubs at both Swansea and Cardiff, and a two-tier spoke model involving Tier-1 Spokes (at Aberystwyth, Bangor and the University of South Wales) plus Tier-2A clusters and associated Tier-2B workstations at a number of other installations across Wales.

Please visit www.hpcwales.co.uk to find out more.

About SIRBATT

SIRBATT (Stable Interfaces for Rechargeable Batteries) is a European funded FP7 multisite collaborative project. It consists of 12 partners from across Europe and includes six universities, five industry partners and one research institute. Collaboration with leading battery research groups at an international level will play an important part in the project. The diversity of the organisations will provide a wide range of complementary expertise in areas relating to the study of battery electrode interfaces, at both experimental and theoretical levels. Find out more about the project at www.liv.ac.uk/sirbatt. Research will be carried out within the frame of seven identified Work Packages.

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Source: HPC Wales