The University of Sheffield has won a £1.5 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to research new battery energy storage solutions to create more efficient and cheaper trains. The TransEnergy project, led by the University of Sheffield working with Network Rail and the Universities of Leeds and Southampton, will look into the viability of using passengers’ parked electric vehicles as back-up batteries for trains.
The proposed solutions will be examined with the goal of alleviating strain on electrical energy supplies at peak times, thereby increasing the frequency of trains. Passengers who allow their electric car batteries to supplement primary power sources would receive free parking. It could also result in lower fares and more services, which would benefit all passengers.
A National Infrastructure Commission report recently highlighted that energy storage technological innovations could save consumers £8 billion a year by 2030 whilst enabling the UK to reduce its carbon emissions targets.
The team will be led by Dr Martin Foster from Sheffield University’s Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department. It will develop an energy storage test facility alongside a railway line to research energy storage batteries and supercapacitor hybrid solutions to power acceleration and charge from braking trains.
Dr Martin Foster said:
“Electric powered rail travel has helped to reduce pollution and improve the comfort of travellers. Our project will look at how we can meet the demand for more electricity on our railways by investigating innovative ways to store surplus energy.
“Similar energy storage systems are already being used on the electricity grid during peak times and by translating these to our railways, we could deliver real benefits to both rail companies and consumers, bringing down the costs of travel and improving services.”
James Ambrose, Principal Engineer for Network Rail, said:
“Network Rail is committed to electrifying more lines in the UK. Our project will be working with rail providers to recommend new approaches that will mean increased efficiency for the industry.”
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