Economies everywhere are keen to find energy sources that are sustainable, secure and environmentally friendly. HKU has an active team of researchers investigating emerging energy sources as well as technologies for harvesting, transmitting, using and storing renewable energies and minimising their environmental impacts.
Clean energy research by its nature requires a crossdisciplinary effort to identify new energy sources and convert them into a useable form. HKU scholars from a variety of specialities in the Faculties of Engineering and Science are collaborating closely on three areas of growing importance and opportunity: salinity gradient power, energy recovery and storage, and biomass energy.
Salinity gradient power is the energy drawn from the difference in salt concentrations between fresh and sea water when they mix as in estuaries. It is attracting increasing attention around the world as a source of renewable energy. HKU scholars are trying to improve brine management, which is a major issue in harvesting this kind of energy, with the goal of enhancing energy efficiency and minimising the associated environmental impacts.
Energy recovery and storage is a constant concern for renewable energies. The SRT team is focused on three specific issues: recovering waste heat by applying nanomaterials and nanoengineering; investigating ways to improve the lithium-air battery by trying to identify a stable electrolyte and the best combinations of electrode materials and electrolytes; and investigating recycled lead and its use in lead acid batteries, which currently are the only economic means of storing electricity from renewable sources on a large scale.
Biomass energy is an alternative source of energy commonly produced through yeast fermentation. HKU scholars are aiming to generate yeast strains that have improved growth performance and yield in biofuel production. They are focusing in particular on the transportation fuel, isobutanol.
The SRT platform will enable the team to develop preliminary initiatives in these fields that, if successful, can evolve into major projects in future.
Related major work at the University includes Theme-based Research Scheme projects on 'Sustainable Lighting Technology: From Devices to Systems' and 'Sustainable Power Delivery Structures for High Renewables'.
Clean energy technology is a major concern of governments, public interest groups, socially responsible corporations and others around the world. Our aim is to make HKU a leading international centre of clean energy research and to promote collaboration with international and Mainland scholars and organisations in this important field.
Professor S.Y.R. Hui, Convenor