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Professor Saiful Islam
Professor Saiful Islam
Professor Matthew Davidson
Professor Matthew Davidson
Professor Laurie Peter
Professor Laurie Peter

Press Release - 03 July 2006

Latest green energy research showcased at prestigious Royal Society exhibition

The University of Bath’s strength as a centre for world-leading research into sustainable energy will be demonstrated today (Monday 3 July) at the prestigious Summer Science Exhibition hosted by the Royal Society, the UK’s premier scientific institution.

The exhibition runs from 3-6 July 2006 and gives the public the chance to see the best of the UK’s science, engineering and technology.

Researchers from the University’s Department of Chemistry will explain their work on the science behind the next generation of technologies which are hoped to lead to clean and sustainable replacements for fossil fuels.

Three research groups in the department are working on solar cells, biodiesel materials and fuel cell materials as possible answers to the problems of expensive and dwindling energy supplies and environmental pollution.

“These technologies have enormous potential,” said Professor Matthew Davidson. “The sun provides the earth with more energy in an hour than the global fossil energy consumption in a year – we just need to harness it.”

Visitors to the exhibit, Power to the people: the molecular revolution in sustainable energy, will be able to see the team make solar cells, try their hand at some computer aided chemistry and examine molecular models close up.

The current consumption of fossil fuels as the world’s major source of energy is not sustainable. Reserves of oil, gas and coal are depleting fast, while the world’s energy use is set to double by 2050. Carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels are a major contributor to greenhouse gases and global warming.

Current green transport fuels, made from vegetable oil, are expensive to produce. Professor Davidson’s team are developing new catalysts to enable these biodiesels to be made more cheaply and efficiently from unrefined oils, such as chip fat, as a short term replacement for fossil fuels.

In the medium term Professor Saiful Islam, also from the Chemistry Department, and his team are using state-of-the-art computer modelling tools to develop fuel cells for homes and transport. Fuel cells are already on trial in some buildings and in ‘zero-emission’ buses, but the operating costs are high. The team are working on designing better fuel cells from different materials.

A research team led by the Head of Chemistry, Professor Laurie Peter, is working on the long term goal of harnessing the sun’s power directly. They are working to improve the efficiency and stability of a new type of solar cell to convert sunlight into electrical power at a far higher rate than current silicon-based solar cells.

Professor Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, said: “The Summer Science Exhibition is a celebration of the first-class research undertaken in the UK. The exhibition is a fascinating opportunity to experience first-hand the developments in science, engineering and technology and talk to scientists working at the forefront of scientific research. I hope the exhibition will enthuse the public as well as the scientists and provide inspiration for the next generation considering a career in science.”.

The Summer Science Exhibition is held annually at the Royal Society's headquarters in Carlton House Terrace, London. The event is free, and over 4,000 people are expected to visit.

Notes

The Summer Science Exhibition takes place at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG.


The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/