Fully integrated EV energy storage using transport infrastructure

Lead supervisor: Professor David Stone, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Erica Ballantyne, Management School

Deadline: Monday 6 March 2017

Applications for this project have now closed.

Project description

Electric vehicles (EVs) are being viewed as a potentially effective technological response to address government targets to reduce road transport emissions. This PhD project (jointly supervised between Electrical Engineering and the Management School) seeks to examine the potential for surplus energy from the grid and mass transit systems such as railways, to be stored and re-used through the use of EV batteries, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem.

With governments coming under increasing pressure to improve air quality, particularly in urban areas, many countries are considering policies to actively increase the number of EVs on their roads and ban diesel cars altogether by 2020. However, EVs are not entirely emission-free, many use grid generated electricity to charge on board batteries, thus generating emissions upstream in the supply chain from power plants. Therefore the potential for EVs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depends on the nature of electricity generation used to charge EV batteries. Promoting EV use in urban environments has practical implications around electric grid capacity for mass EV charging, as the increased capacity required by a mass uptake of EV’s will require significant infrastructure investment to upgrade the existing grid supply in the UK.

A large proportion of private EV usage is commuting to and from the workplace, where vehicles are typically left during the day. The potential concentration of large numbers of EV’s in carparks, at offices, railway stations etc. could facilitate a creative approach to using EV batteries as pseudo-stationary energy storage. E.g. the use of say 100 EVs in a railway station carpark could be linked to an electrified railway to provide an energy buffer from decelerating trains, taking surplus energy from the train, which is usually dissipated as heat, and providing energy for acceleration. Additionally, electrified railways have a permanent electrical connection to the supply grid which is only fully utilised when a train passes through the local track section. This could allow mass EV charging when there is no train present without large upgrade costs for the utility grid infrastructure.

To achieve maximum impact, a synergic ‘full systems’ approach needs to be taken, presenting opportunities for cross disciplinary research, not only examining the technical issues presented by the system, but also the techno-economic benefits / costs to all players.

Keywords: transport infrastructure, electric vehicles, energy storage, hybrid power systems, renewable generation, rail electrification, power, power systems

Subject areas: Engineering: Electrical & Electronic, Energy, Environmental engineering, Environmental science; Business and Finance: Business and Management; Arts: Architecture and the Built Environment; Social Science and Health: Architecture and the Built Environment, Town and Country Planning

Funding notes

This opportunity is available for a student from China only. This four year studentship will be partly funded by a ‘Mong Family’ alumni donation. An offer from the Grantham Centre to cover the full tuition fees and research fees is subject to the student obtaining the additional funding from the China Scholarship Council (CSC).  Further information is available at apply.csc.edu.cn.  

Applications to the CSC have to be made by Wednesday 5 April 2017.

Applications to the Grantham Centre for the Sustainable Futures at The  University of Sheffield should be received and completed by Monday 6 March 2017.