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WGU ten years


Current Innovation Projects Lead by our Students

At WGU students are encouraged to be innovative in their thinking.  Projects are carried out each year as part of the curriculum.  Below are examples of the excellent projects and research that are scheduled for 2018/19 and completed projects of previous years that our students have developed or been involved with.

Projects scheduled for 2018/19:

  • How to achieve clean waste within the university. Including how to track what happens to our recycled waste at the university- with the aid of a GPS tracker.
  • University energy data analysis and modelling
  • Traffic light optimisation of roundabout mathematical modelling. 
  • The improving efficiencies and reduction in manufacturing costs of renewable energy’s vs. increased carbon tax liabilities and price increases of fossil fuels. This project will research when the point will come that renewables become cheaper than conventional fossil fuels and what the impact will be?
  • To investigate and design a district heating scheme for typical infrastructure and the benefits this would bring.
  • One of the ideas to cut carbon emissions being discussed is to switch heating and cooking facilities from gas to electricity from renewable sources. This research looks at the increase in electrical demand from the grid this would bring, how the grid will need to change, its impact and the savings in carbon emissions for various future electricity mixes.

For further information on any of these projects (and a lot more) or if you would like a student to research a problem/ solution for you please contact Dave Sprake

2017/18 Projects

Research into the latest energy storage technology - Research into the latest energy storage technology. Energy storage is a dynamic field with new products, ideas and improvements in performance being put forward on an almost weekly basis.  This project looks into the future and analyses the most promising areas and likely technologies of significant interest. It also looks at the price threshold energy storage barriers that need to be achieved in order to make energy storage viable mainstream.

How the energy market works and how it will work in a renewable energy future - The whole way the UK energy market has been formulated is a very complex mix of schemes, markets and policies. This fragmented, mishmash of schemes and measures, multiple separate businesses and interests although well-meaning seems to be a fix to try to make an inadequate system in need of investment and rapid change “get by” with the illusion of competitiveness. This “could” be a relatively simple system which has been turned into a monster. This research looks into how the input of large amounts of variable and sometimes unpredictable renewable energy will have on the business of energy and how it can be structured fairly for the benefit of all.

Hydro turbine low flow CFD modelling - Here we designed a hydro turbine and simulated water flowing through it with the aide of Computational Fluid Dynamics. The power output and any problems can be analysed inside a computer without any actual physical experimentation.

Bladeless wind turbine CFD modelling - Computational Fluid Dynamics was used to model how wind flowed through a new design of bladeless wind turbine. 

Design of a wood burning stove that also produces electricity for poor areas - In third world countries the use of wood burning stoves is common to heat water and cook. In this project, the student designed and built a more efficient, safer wood burning stove that also produced electricity to charge a smartphone with a thermoelectric cell. 

Wood burning, electric producing stove

Design of a smart grid - Smart grids are the future of energy distribution and this project looked at the design and optimisation of a new grid with efficiency’s being made with load shifting, smart appliances, variable renewable energy and energy storage.

Biodigester project (In collaboration with fre-energy) - This project looked at the design and build of a new system that made biomethane to be used as a transport fuel. The base gas was produced in a bio-digester from waste. This student won a prestigious prize with this project.

OTEC potential study. (Ocean thermal energy conversion) - This project looked into the possibilities of using the difference in temperature of the deep ocean and the surface to produce electricity through a Rankin cycle engine. 

Electric vehicle vs. internal combustion engine vehicles- a comparison of lifetime carbon emissions - There is a debate raging about the legitimacy of “green” electric vehicles. Here the embodied energy of electric and fossil fuel vehicles were analysed together with where the electricity to charge comes from and the pollution burning fossil fuels produce both producing electricity and in a car engine.

Converting a remote Scout hut to be powered by renewables off grid - We were approached by Cornel scout hut about turning there Snowdonia faculty “off grid”. This project looked at the possibilities of wind, solar and hydropower in this location and also how efficiencies could be made in reducing the overall energy load for the project.

Cooling of photovoltaic panels to improve efficiencies - When solar PV panels get hot their efficiency reduces. This project looked at cost-effective methods of how panels could be cooled, the effect it would have on energy production and payback times. 

Perspective of education regarding renewable energies and sustainable Issues - In an age of fake news, miss information and political spin, there is still some denial about climate change and sustainability issues. This project looks at how educators can better inform students of all ages as well as the general public about such issues and looks into the techniques used by sceptics to mislead.

Analysis of national grid substations energy losses and the possibilities of installing renewable energy to them - The 10,000s of substations around the UK use electricity to function. This project looks at how renewables (wind and solar) could be installed on substation sites to reduce these electrical losses.

Students also design a renewable energy scheme at level 5 and innovate a sustainable product at MSc level.

2016/17 Projects

Architectural Design Technology students involved in design improvements of local properties - Improvement work on an estate will include installing external wall insulation on the outside walls and elevations of around 400 steel-framed ‘Cubbitt’ properties houses on the estate. This is designed to improve insulation on the properties, making them more efficient to heat, as well as improve their external appearance.

Read more here

Summer Students Debate Global Climate Change - The cohort of Glynd┼Ár University summer students argued from varying perspectives for different nations, including the United States, China, India and Iraq, as part of an assessment on Energy Systems and Sustainable Environment.

Among the viewpoints they gave were that of a farmer, a city trader, green activists and a politician.

Senior lecturer David Sprake praised the students for engaging in the contest, held at the University’s Wrexham campus.

Read more here

Attracting Owls to Campus - The Owl Trust, based in Llandudno visited our students to talk about owl conservation and rehabilitation. Joining Jenni Morgan was a barn owl, a little owl and a long-eared owl, all being cared for at the centre as a result of injury. Jenni described how the birds are brought to them after being found at the sides of roads, caught in barbed wire or as unwanted pets and provided with medical care, time and space to recover. Students from the Animal Studies course have recently redesigned the enclosures at the Trust’s headquarters to increase enrichment and allow birds to fly. Jenni explained that most are successfully released back into the wild.

After the visit Students teamed up with WGU Northop’s site manager Dennis Powell who organised for an owl box (handmade and gifted to WGU by Dennis Powell Senior) to be installed at WGU’s Northop Campus on the border of our prey-rich grassland, an area that supports a whole range of biodiversity.

Attracting owls to campus

Renewable Engineering Student Has Paper Published - Our MSc Renewable Engineering and Sustainable Energy student Alexandre Oudin from Réunion Island, France has published a research conference paper in the IEEEXplore Digital Library. Titled "A geographical information system approach for analysis of surface areas in the context of renewable energy resources”

Read it here

Spider and Arachnids Survey - Carl Payne one of our 3rd Year Wildlife & Plant Biology students teamed up with the North Wales Wildlife Trust and Cofnod to organise a survey of spiders and other arachnids on the Northop campus site. It was conducted by Richard Gallon - arachnologist and biological data officer from Cofnod a local environmental recording agency from Llandudno, on the 27th May 2017. The session was open to WGU students and the public. Richards’s session included spider ID, general techniques, an arachnid survey around campus and then running through some microscopy identification to record at a species level.

Recording techniques and volunteering opportunities were discussed and a request for a Bio-blitz was made to the local branch of the North Wales Wildlife Trust - Clywydian branch committee that organises local events.

The link between the University and other organisations involved in conservation activities is exciting. It will raise the potential for students within Wildlife & Plant Biology and Ecology, Geography and Conservation to volunteer, learn new skills, network and understand the ecosystems within the area.

Spiders and arachnids
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