HARP2 is a £1.2M consortium that brings together the Universities of Manchester and Huddersfield, as well as a range of industrial project partners, to achieve a technological step-change in the design and application of environmentally-friendly, high-efficiency and fully-integrated waste heat recovery systems for generation of electrical power. This demonstration project will cover three main areas: (i) novel topologies of thermoacoustic engines, coupled with (ii) reciprocating electrical machines using innovative drive/control techniques, and (iii) novel manufacturing technologies to fabricate complex multi-scale objects into compact and robust pressure systems. These have to be optimised for future low-cost and mass-production, and to fit a wide range of potential technological applications, including internal combustion engines for land and marine transportation, micro-CHP (combined heat and power) systems in domestic or small commercial gas/biomass fuelled boilers, railway rolling stock, or industrial process units, to name just a few.
To achieve this end, a challenging multi-disciplinary work programme has been developed requiring a close collaboration between research institutions. This must cover aspects of: modelling and experimental validation of thermoacoustic systems, in particular travelling-wave cascade engines optimised for maximum thermal efficiency, building and validating acoustic impedance coupling models between thermoacoustic systems and linear alternators (LAs), developing inexpensive alternator designs and appropriate control strategies for maximum power-point tracking using adaptive acoustic impedance matching, structural analysis for high pressure and fatigue loading, and suitable fabrication protocols in the manufacturing context to ensure the successful integration and packaging of all sub-systems into a working proof-of-concept demonstrator.
Six industrial companies, familiar with R&D and product development processes on the academia-ndustry interface, are supporting the project through their participation in the steering committee - denoted the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) in the HARP2 programme - and through in-kind contributions of staff time and facilities to provide application-oriented guidance to the project. The companies include British Petroleum Plc, Spirax Sarco Ltd, Ricardo UK Ltd, Ashwell Biomass Ltd, European Thermodynamics Ltd and Reliance Precision Ltd, and are represented in the IAB by their technical leads. The companies cover relevant technical areas, in particular process industries, transport (road/rail/marine) and boiler manufacturers as well as the manufacturing sector. The intention is to grow the membership of the IAB through a mix of public engagement and dissemination activities targeted at industry and policy-makers.
This complex research programme aligns directly with the EPSRC "themes" of Energy (improvement in the UK's energy balance by a wider utilisation of waste heat from multiple sources and novel solutions for future renewable technologies), Manufacturing the Future (by devising novel and competitive products and processes and new materials concepts with bespoke properties), and, in an extended way, Global Uncertainties and Living with Environmental Change (by reducing environmental impacts of energy utilisation activities).
In particular, it aims to make significant contributions to the future of the UK's energy sector such as (i) unlocking the potential of co-generation and (ii) reduction in CO2 emissions. It is estimated that the technical capacity for cogeneration in the UK will be 40 GWe by 2030, while the technically recoverable heat from industrial processes amounts to 11 TWh/y, corresponding to 2.2 million tonne of CO2 being abated. The HARP2 TAG technology may provide significant contributions to achieving these two goals which makes the research extremely timely.