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Innovative energy-harvesting technologies to promote active travel

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Dr Andrea Cammarano, Prof G Falcone, Prof Cindy Gray  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


Sustainable low-carbon energy solutions (SLES) are needed to achieve net zero, energy resilience, improved air quality and green job creation. Yet, uptake of low-carbon energy is too slow to meet ambitious carbon neutrality targets. A key challenge is how to identify and prioritise SLES opportunities at different scales, while considering socio-economic-environmental factors. Community-scale renewable projects hold promise for change in cities, but remain scarce due to a fragmented approach.

With a focused place-based approach, this project with investigate and test innovative, small-scale energy-harvesting technologies to promote active travel. More specifically, it will develop, build and test:

a)      an interactive prototype and demo of technology to harvest vibration energy from the new Govan- Partick cyclist and pedestrian bridge (construction to begin in 2022). This will include an interactive demo to harvest energy from the dynamic load induced by pedestrians and cyclists on the bridge structure and will convert the mechanical energy into electric power through a combination of electromagnetic and piezoelectric transducers. The system will feature devices placed on the cycle lane that will have the dual aim of harvesting energy and limiting cyclists’ speed. The power harvested could be used to monitor the dynamics of the bridge and its health over the time, reducing maintenance costs while improving safety of the structure.

b)     a low-cost, clamp-on (portable) pedal-power generation and storage system to accumulate energy during cycling and reuse it as free energy to power or recharge small devices and sensors (e.g., mobiles phones, or the monitoring sensors). The system will consist of a basic generator connected to a portable battery with USB port. During the project, the system will be connected to the bikes of three volunteer users from amongst our PhDs and PDRAs, representing recreational/amateur/enthusiast riders’ profiles. For a selected number of identified cycling routes along active travel corridors, the total amount of energy harvested per route and the number of hours of corresponding usage will be recorded.

The successful candidate for this project will:

-       demonstrate skills and experience in working with dynamical systems capable of energy conversion and power recovery;

-       have a good aptitude for design, modelling and testing;

-       use models and simulation techniques to identify efficient, sustainable and affordable solutions that will be discussed with our Programme Partner Group.

The proposed devices will be able to harvest kinetic energy from pedestrians and cyclists to power different types of sensors, collect and store measurements, and present the data to the commuters to promote active travel.

This project brings the vital ‘energy-as-a-service’ component of sustainable city planning and living a 1.5°C lifestyle. It will empower local people as active Energy Citizens to co-create clean energy demand and roadmap for Glasgow.

Assessment of technical feasibility of energy opportunities, identified using a place-based approach, will complement social, ecological and consumption sustainability objectives and success indicators, including CO2 emissions, land/water footprint, and job creation over the project. This project will help to map recommended cycling routes in neighbourhoods, with associated distance, duration, recoverable energy and its potential use.

To be classed as a UK/Home applicant, candidates must meet the following criteria:

• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or

• Have settled status, or

• Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or

• Have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

All applicants must have or expect to obtain a first-class degree (2.1 or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. This may cover, but is not limited to, earth sciences, social science, mathematics, engineering, computing, physics, bio- and chemical sciences.

We champion Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, believing that this is the way to increase research productivity and quality and to enhance societal and economic impact. Likewise, the University of Glasgow and our external partners are fully committed to EDI principles.

We support applications from under-represented backgrounds, childcare support for conference attendance, flexible working for carers and promote a work-life balance.

For enquires related to EDI, please address to GALLANT EDI Champion, Dr Caroline Gauchotte-Lindsay via the GALLANT-phd mailbox.

How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply: For studentship enquiries, please contact [Email Address Removed].

Funding Notes

Full studentship funding is available to cover four years of tuition fees for UK Home applicants and an annual stipend equivalent to the UK Research Council rate (e.g. £15,840 for Session 2022/23).
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