At WGU students are encouraged to be innovative in their thinking. 

Projects are carried out each year as part of the curriculum. Below are some examples of the excellent projects and research that are in process.

For further information on any of these projects, to find out about more of our students' projects or if you would like a student to research a problem/solution for you, please contact David Sprake


Content Accordions

  • An analysis and application of technologies to produce electrical energy from low thermal energy

    This research begins with a review of thermoelectric generators, Stirling engines and organic Rankine cycles. Different concepts based on each of these three technologies are developed for a specific case study. The technologies are compared and contrasted for their potential to generate 4kW on a constant basis from a hot source of water at 80°C and a cold source at ambient temperature. The case study is analysed to discover the optimum solution for these specific conditions. To contrast these technologies, 24 criteria have been chosen and each concept has been given a grade for each criteria. Then, the sum of point for each criteria gives the total score and reveals the optimum concept with the highest score. Moreover, the technologies are compared on four categories - technical, economic, sustainability and environment in usage.

  • How blockchain can help build a more sustainable future

    This research focuses on Bitcoin's energy consumption since it's the primary consumer in the whole cryptocurrency space and compares it to the global banking system and mining industry. Comparing Bitcoin to the modern banking system indicates that Bitcoin consumes approximately 28 times less energy [2] than the global banking system and two times less than the global gold mining industry.

  • Evaluating the Feasibility of Direct Air Carbon Capture

    One promising technology for addressing climate change is CO2 capture, also known as ”Direct Air Carbon Capture” (DACC), which involves removing CO2 from the atmosphere and either storing it or converting it into a usable form. In this bachelor research, we not only focus on calculating the energy and cost required to filter out 1 part per million (ppm) of CO2 from the atmosphere, but also determine the number of DACC facilities with a 1Mt capture capacity needed to achieve this goal. The aim of this research is to assess the overall feasibility of such a CO2 capture system by calculating the energy requirements and  sociated costs. This information will provide insight into the technical and economic  feasibility of filtering out 1 ppm CO2 from the atmosphere.

  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency feasibility study of an educational establishment

    Educational establishments are usually large buildings that accommodate students and therefore have great potential for renewable energy to be installed on either the roofs or in the grounds. Modern day teaching has moved from pencil and papers to a more technological equipment such as tablets and computers to do work, and therefore require energy to power them.

    The aim of this study is to see if it is feasible to improve a buildings energy efficiency to accommodate forms of renewable energy. Two key energy consumptions of the school, electricity and gas, were analysed for usage patterns. These patterns would help to decide on what form renewable energies could be used. The availability of natural resources were compared to best match the school’s consumption. Before any renewable energy technology is considered, the energy efficiency of the building must be improved to reduce the energy load. Energy efficiency could be improved by changing appliances and fixtures such as lights, whilst also changing the habits of staff and students.

    It was determined that the building would be suitable for ground source heat pumps in the field to supply hot water and space heating in the winter. Solar PV systems would be installed on the roof to supply electrical power when available in the winter months and provide an income during the summer. An off-site wind turbine was considered to supply power to the school and the local community to compliment the solar PV system. The only downfall to installing these improvements and technology were financial restrictions due to budget and the initial cost of setting up. However, if securing funding for the improvements and technology could be achieved, it would be possible to make this educational establishment sustainable and energy secure for many years. 

  • Vertical axis wind turbine for the 3rd world

    The purpose of the project was to investigate different designs of vertical axis home built micro wind turbines as an alternative to the cumbersome but popular Savonius style turbines often built from modified metal drums. Different designs were investigated using academic sources, video sharing platforms and commercial websites. These turbines would be designed for DIY construction and also used in remote third world areas with no electricity. The chosen design was created using Autodesk Inventor CAD software. Functional wind turbines were constructed from scrap materials and household items.

    These were tested under controlled and real world conditions. The working models were based around bicycle hub dynamos; these were chosen for simplicity and relatively slow rotational speeds.

    The core aims for the turbines being simplicity, ease of build, using inexpensive and readily available materials, durability, low maintenance and stability.

    The investigation also included:

    • The storage of the electricity generated.
    • What it could be used to power.
    • Its use in conjunction with other renewable energy technologies.
    • Further improvements to increase efficiency.

    The working models were shown to generate electricity from the wind and also demonstrated charging a battery and being used in parallel with a solar panel.

    Different design configurations were tested. The chosen design met the core aims and produced enough power to charge mobile telephones or power low consumption applications, led light, radios etc. The study acknowledged the low efficiency of the design, the limitations of testing due to the emergency restrictions in place and recommendations for further study.

  • CFD analysis of an Archimedes Screw Turbine

    The Archimedes Screw Turbine (AST) is an instrument that is effective at low head height sites, and this tool allows the harnessing of kinetic energy of water and converts it into mechanical energy. The Archimedes screw is a conventional tool previously used to pump water. And ever since this tool’s operation was reversed to generate electricity, it has seen a steady increase in utilisation around the world.

    The aim of this study is to numerically analyse the Archimedes screw turbine, by applying a three dimensional simulation to observe and analyse the water flow and flow losses around the screw, and take torque readings and apply power and efficiency calculations. Due to a number of difficulties faced while conducting this report, a new model was created to observe results that can aid in the understanding of the AST system’s operation. However, the potential of the new model is limited and only little information was acquired. The tests were conducted at a constant flow rate of 5.28 (l/s), and three variable rotational velocities 15, 30 and 45 RPM. The results showed that the torque values were low for all three cases.

    It was observed that the majority of the water volume was escaping through the gap between the trough and screw blades, which has reduced the pressure acting on the screw’s surface and resulted in a drop of the torque readings. This was expected as the gap distance was larger than the maximum value that maintains the screw’s efficiency.

    After further investigation of the collected results, the efficiency seemed low and this was thought to be normal, due to the flow leakages occurring in the gap, but when the head height was observed in the contour figures, it seemed to be fluctuating depending on the rotational velocity. It is predicted that these fluctuations have made the efficiency calculations inaccurate, and the efficiency is thought to be lower than the calculated values due to the difference in head height in each case.

  • Past Projects

    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 need to achieve 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 turbines. 

    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. 

    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 efficiencies 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 that produce both electricity and fuel in a car engine.

    Converting a remote Scout hut to be powered by renewables off grid - We were approached by Cornel Scout Centre about turning their 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, misinformation 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.

    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 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.

    Summer Students Debate Global Climate Change - The cohort of Wrexham Glyndŵr 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.

    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 them 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.

    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. The paper is titled: 'A geographical information system approach for analysis of surface areas in the context of renewable energy resources.'

    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 - an arachnologist and biological data officer from Cofnod, and 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.