ERA is investing £20m in Thermal Energy technologies


Thermal energy, both hot and cold, is one of the major energy challenges. The provision of cold, or cooling, is integral to modern society; without it, the supply of food, medicine and data would simply break down. Yet cooling currently consumes large amounts of energy and causes a great deal of pollution.


ERA is working collaboratively with Midlands Innovation universities and other partners, to drive the development and integration of a range of thermal and cryo-energy technologies. These will deliver jobs and apprenticeships, wealth creation and the next generation of scientists and engineers in the energy sector and emerging industries. ERA is working to support thermal and cryogenic research and is both investing in and utilising a number of facilities. These include: The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) EBRI at Aston University, is a focus for innovation in biomass production and the utilisation of products for renewable power, heat, transport fuels, hydrogen and chemicals. ERA’s investment at EBRI includes:

  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy machine (XPS)
  • Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Bioreactor suite

ERA has also installed a Thermo-Catalytic Reformer at Tyseley Energy Park in Birmingham, which converts waste into energy, creating green fuel for the city.

Highview Liquid Air Energy Storage Facility The UK’s first dedicated research facility for energy storage using cryogenic liquids, opened at the University of Birmingham in 2015. The technology can integrate waste heat or cold from industrial processes to increase the system’s overall efficiency to over 70%. This facility, which is also used for ERA funded research, has the potential to transform future energy systems, reducing the costs of integrating intermittent generation into the electricity system and ensuring power is available when it is most needed. Thermal Technologies Laboratory The Thermal Technologies Laboratory is being enhanced by the provision of further test equipment and data logging facilities. New in-house manufacturing capability is also being provided by the purchase of micro-TIG welding systems and a laser cutter to allow rapid proto-typing of the bespoke heatexchangers being developed. New thermal baths will extend the ability to test thermal systems that require controlled heating and cooling.


£5.2 billion is spent on energy in the UK each year for refrigeration and cooling.

Thermal Energy Technologies