Sustainable Energy

BHI Solar PanelWe undertake research on energy demand, supply-side management and renewable energy applications, particularly solar thermal energy and smart energy grids. We also work on Zero-energy housing. Our work is undertaken collaboratively with industry.

Solar energy technologies

Our capabilities include development and testing of new thermal energy storage materials and computer modelling and design of thermal energy storage systems. Thermal storage is considered essential for large scale application of solar thermal technology for dispatchable and economically competitive electricity generation. To date, however, cost-effective compact storage technology has not been developed. Phase Change Materials (PCM) presents an attractive option but they generally suffer from instability and poor heat transfer characteristics. Researchers are investigating new phase change materials that are more stable for high temperature thermal storage. They are also investigating various heat transfer enhancement technologies through computer modelling and physical experiments.

Solar thermal technologies are put to the test in a range of ways including measuring thermal performance of solar collectors, checking the impact of rainfall and large hail stones, evaluating safety and performance during extended periods of no hot water draw-off and protection against freezing temperatures. Various methodologies for rating and monitoring energy use in housing developments have been developed. As a result of our solar thermal energy research, products for commercialisation have been developed such as a roof-integrated heating system, a new generation of solar lights and phase change storage systems for heating and cooling applications. We aim to build on advances in the technology and testing of solar thermal energy systems to improve uptake and ultimately reduce carbon footprint.

Smart energy grids

Electricity generation companies are using renewable energy systems to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but without determining which mixture of technologies is most beneficial. The Barbara Hardy Institute has the expertise to exploit advanced stochastic modelling and dynamic optimisation techniques to structure the integration of renewable energy systems into the electricity supply system. Our contribution to the intelligent grid cluster is the monitoring of energy use in a state-of-the-art sustainable development in the Lochiel Park Green Village, 8kms North-East of Adelaide CBD. Apart from evaluating the detailed performance of various innovations and systems, the project will focus on the interaction of the householders with these systems.

For more information, please contact Wasim Saman.

Testing & evaluation capabilities

The Barbara Hardy Institute runs testing and evaluation services in addition to its research. Additionally, our researchers offer expert specialist advice and consultancy services to government and industry.

BHI Testing Eval 4

Sustainable Energy Industry Support Centre (SEISC)

  • Solar thermal technologies
  • Solar water heaters
  • Heat pump water heaters
  • Energy savings from water heaters
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Thermal resistance of building elements

 High Temperature Testing Facility: Testing for Thermal Storage

High Temperature Testing Factility

With increased interest in storing thermal energy at high temperatures for Concentrated Solar Power and other industrial processes, there is a growing need to test prototype scale systems. This facility provides the means to determine the thermal characteristics of systems requiring a high temperature heat source up to 900oC. One of only a handful of facilities globally, it was developed to provide industry and research institutions with a testing service needed to support the development of high temperature thermal energy storage but its versatile design means that it can be used for a variety of industrial processes.


See also the Regional Sustainability Centre for sustainable energy applications at the Barbara Hardy Institute.

Key projects include:

  • Development of high temperature molten salt mineral processing techniques

    Development of high temperature molten salt mineral processing techniques

    The initial phase of this project will evaluate the feasibility of separating molten mineral salt mixtures at high temperatures (> 800°C) in order to achieve significant energy and cost savings in the refining process.

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  • Boosting renewable energy use with phase change thermal energy storage for refrigeration

    Boosting renewable energy use with phase change thermal energy storage for refrigeration

    This project aims to increase efficiencies and reduce costs for the industrial and commercial refrigeration market via optimal control of novel energy-dense phase change storage materials coupled with on-premises solar photovoltaic energy supply.

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  • Premier’s Research and Industry Fund - International Research Grant Program

    Premier’s Research and Industry Fund - International Research Grant Program

    Funded by the Government of South Australia under The Premier’s Research and Industry Fund - International Research Grant Program, this project brings together experts from around Australian and the world in achieving the goals of reduced energy costs and reduced carbon dioxide emissions from finding new ways of using thermal energy storage systems.

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  • Renewable energy grid

    Renewable energy grid

    High performance thermal energy storage systems with high temperature phase change material (ASI funded).

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