Big Bang Fair 2017

This report concerns the activities of the Human to Hydrogen Experience @TheHydrogenBike at the Big Bang Fair 2017 in March 2017.

We attended the fair with a sponsorship from the RSC who gave us £4000 towards the stand in the Birmingham NEC.

The Hydrogen Bike is an outreach project by Swansea University that enables participants to donate their energy via a static bike and observe in real time their energy stored as hydrogen gas.  It facilitates real understanding and discussion as to the issues surrounding our renewable energy future and the use of hydrogen to store and move energy.

The team of chemists and engineers were amazing and full of enthusiasm for the full 4 days of intense activity.  6 of us went up and we spoke to more than 1500 people every day with at least a third of them actually getting on the bike.  The event was totally exhausting in a good way with at times groups of 20 small children peddling for 30 seconds, seeing their bubbles and then jumping off. While others spent longer on the bike making a substantial amount of hydrogen. The flame was well behaved and really opened the eyes of loads of people as to the cutting edge science that we do at Swansea and the benefits of Hydrogen as a potential store for renewable energy.

We counted people in two categories those on the bike and those actively watching the display and discussions.  Broken down daily:

  • Wednesday –  1193 recorded interactions with an additional 359 on the bike
  • Thursday – 1451 recorded interactions with an additional 679 on the bike
  • Friday – 965 recorded interactions with an additional 549 on the bike
  • Saturday ~1000 recorded interactions with an additional 500 on the bike

Giving us a total of more than 6500 interactions with people.

The age range was across the board with most being of school age.  The youngest child on the bike was probably about 3 years old and sat on the bike seat while here brothers turned the peddles long below her feet, while the oldest interaction would have been one of the grandparents taking their grandchildren to the show.  There were people from all backgrounds and ethnicities involved, reflecting the diverse backgrounds from which our school children originate.

There were a number of highlights for me. People declaring that we were the “Best event at the whole show” were pretty touching, as was the young lad who climbed out of his wheel chair and onto the bike in order to see his own hydrogen bubbles. Some of the more in-depth conversations about sustainable living and energy transfer were great, as was the animated argument about how we should ignore the laws of physics and run the bike off the hydrogen energy in order to make more hydrogen…..

We also came up with loads of improvements for the display and are now trying to implement them before our next outing.

I am extremely grateful to the RSC for their contribution and to the dedicated helpers on our team and look forward to the next encounter for The Hydrogen Bike.


Charlie Dunnill                                                                               @TheHydrogenBike

Joseph Bear’s poster MC12

S-Polymers MC12_2MB

PhD in Renewable Energy Storage and Vectoring

With the modern shift to renewable energy supplies, there remains a significant problem in the buffering of supply and demand. Traditional renewable forms of energy such as wind wave and solar do not correlate in their supply with the demand for energy. Electricity is very difficult to store on a large scale so new forms of energy storage are required to smooth the supply and demand issues. Hydrogen is a fantastic possibility.

The project will look into the application of water splitting devices for the implementation of renewable energy storage in the form of hydrogen gas. Alkaline electrolysers will be engineered and modified with Matlab modelling used to guide the process.

Test cell2 Tests cell

This project will also  have an outreach element where members of the public can be enthused as to the benefits of hydrogen.

More details from the Swansea Post graduate pages HERE

Apply for the post by sending a CV and cover letter to me.

PhD in Solar Energy Harvesting

Fig 1

Solar energy harvesting is the direct conversion of sunlight to fuels.  My methods involve the use of bi-phasic catalysts to split water when under the influence of sunlight.

TiO2 has for many years been the pinnacle of photocatalytic research.  Doped TiO2 has shown much promise in applications with wide ranging consequence.  Another source of interest is in pure TiO2 but using the synergistic relationship between the different crystal structures.  Mixtures of both anatase and rutile have shown promise and are indeed the main composition of the commercial P25.

My new synthetic procedures allows for the production of bi-phasic nanoparticles.  Single particles consisting of half anatase and half rutile. These nanoparticles have allowed some interesting measurements to be carried out and helped to answer one of the big questions of semiconductor photocatalysis.  This is regarding the band alignment in a composite system of Anatase and Rutile.  Our Nature Materials paper on the revision of the band alignments of anatase and rutile we showed how this works.2015-01-16 10.20.43

This project will explore the plethora of different materials that could be married together using this synthetic technique and assess the composites for the use as solar energy harvesting photocatlaysts.

This project will also involve the design modification and optimization of an engineering device that will measure hydrogen produced in these reactions.  as well as having an outreach element where members of the public can be enthused as to the benefits of hydrogen.

More details from the Swansea Post graduate pages HERE

Apply for the post by sending a CV and cover letter to me.