A prestigious research fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering will allow Dr Weijia Yuan from our Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering to further his ground breaking work into the use of superconductors for electricity energy storage.

The British government has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, which require a greater use of renewable energy technology. However, existing storage techniques are not ideal for use with renewable technologies, creating a major barrier to uptake. Dr Yuan’s research aims to create better quality energy storage that can store renewable energy.

Dr Yuan said: “Currently, commercial batteries suffer from being charged and losing charge again too regularly and frequently, this process reduces their life and can mean they need to be replaced more regularly, costing money and damaging the environment.

“Therefore standard commercial batteries need to be improved for renewable energy storage, which can be intermittent - rising when it is particularly sunny or windy. My research aims to create a novel form of storage using superconductors that could overcome this problem.”

The superconductor battery research carried out by Dr Yuan could be hybridised with existing energy storage techniques, combining the advantages of both. Superconductor batteries also charge faster than other energy storage systems.

In addition to becoming a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, Dr Yuan is currently developing a new laboratory here at the University of Bath to support his research. His applied superconductivity laboratory will feature state of the art research demonstrators for energy storage research and characterisation facilities for new superconductor materials.

Dr Yuan said: “This new laboratory will allow me to develop research partnerships with industry. It is a space where I can demonstrate the work I have done so far and establish new partnerships that will allow us to take this research and ensure it has extensive industry impact. I can also use the new laboratory as a training base for students and as a hub for my current research.”

In addition to his RAE Research Fellowship, Dr Yuan has recently been awarded an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) ‘First Grant’ worth £125k. This grant allows him to carry out research into simulation and modelling techniques for superconductors. Over twenty months Dr Yuan will carry out work with Florida State University and the National Grid to build a greater understanding of superconductor materials.

Dr Yuan is also taking part in a research exchange programme including the University of Bath, Tsinghua University and China Electric Power research institute. Between the three organisations, Dr Yuan is working to establish new projects and hopes to carry out joint research in the use of superconducting cables for power transmission.

Dr Yuan already collaborates with the National Grid, Williams Formula One, Applied Superconductor and EADS.