Business Case Studies
14 Sep 2023







Developing carbon-free energy systems

The Green Ammonia Demonstrator on the ERU test site
The Energy Research Unit (ERU) is working with industrial partners to demonstrate the generation and use of green ammonia as a carbon-free fuel. The Ammonia Synthesis Plant from Intermittent Renewable Energy (ASPIRE​) initiative is led by STFC with our industrial partners Johnson Matthey and Frazer-Nash Consultancy, and our academic partner the University of Bath. 

ASPIRE will enable the entire ammonia production process to operate autonomously, powered by a small wind turbine and a series of solar canopies. The green ammonia produced can be used directly as a fuel in internal combustion engines, including gas turbines and in fuel cells, or it can be cracked to release hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuelling stations. Modularity and scalability are at the heart of the design, as such the underlying principles of the ammonia plant have been designed to be rapidly scaled up to meet industry needs.

The Technology Department has worked on the demonstration of green ammonia production for a number of years with a succession of industrial contributors including Siemens, Scottish Power, EDF Renewables, Engie, Hynamics, DNV, and Interlock Energy. The ASPIRE demonstrator is scheduled for commissioning in 2025.

Designing high-speed imaging cameras

The Kirana sensor

The CMOS Sensor Design Group have developed numerous sensors for scientific and industrial applications over the past few decades, including bespoke designs for business customers. A long-standing customer is Specialised Imaging - the company originally approached STFC in 2008 to develop sensors that could capture images at five million frames per second.

The group developed the Kirana modules​ for the Kirana camera product, providing very high-resolution images at ultra-high speeds. Typical of Technology's offering to industry, the development utilised our experience with imaging for science to find a solution where, at the time, no technology existed. The Kirana camera continues to be a flagship product for Specialised Imaging and helped position the company as a world leader in ultra-high-speed imaging.

More recently, the CMOS group has partnered with Cordin Scientific Imaging to develop an ultra-high-speed camera sensor capable of 25 million frames per second. With a megapixel resolution sensor and high quantum efficiency, the camera will be state-of-the-art and capable of capturing ultra-high-speed videos across the visible spectrum in low-light environments.

Improving cryogenic products

The Small Scale Cooler​
​STFC has a long history of work on cryogenic systems for large-scale scientific facilities and Technology's Composite and Materials Testing Group are specialists in epoxy resins for such low temperatures. The team previously worked with Oxford Magnet Technology (now Siemens Magnet Technology) to develop a new epoxy resin bonding system for the company’s superconducting magnets used in their MRI scanners. The resin reduced the production time of the product and also reduced the number of times the magnets failed. Since then, thousands of MRI scanners have been sold using the improved resin system.

The Department also work closely with industrial partners to develop long-life cryocoolers for space missions. The Cryogenic and Magnetics team​, in collaboration with Honeywell, worked on a 4K (Kelvin) Joule-Thomson cryocooler for its PLANCK and HERSCHEL missions. The partnership continues to work on the cryocooler technology developing future solutions with no moving parts for production using additive manufacturing technologies. The Small Scale Cooler developed by the group is more compact and lighter with a higher lifetime than tactical micro-coolers, which is important for operational missions. Honeywell Hymatic are working with STFC to industrialise the Small Scale C​ooler for terrestrial applications. 

More STFC Case Studies

Discover more examples of how STFC and industry have worked together by visiting our Business Innovation account on LinkedIn. ​

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact the Technology Department Business Development Team to discuss how we can assist you in reaching your research and technology development ambitions.

Alexandra Bromhead​

Business Development Manager