Future Talks

All talks at Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street 7.15 for 7.45 unless otherwise advertised.

Monday 1st October – Dr.Ben Potter, Reading University – The Challenge of Moving to Electric Cars

As prices continue to drop and ranges increase, the uptake of electric vehicles is accelerating. Within a few years, at least for new or nearly new vehicles, electric vehicles are likely to be no more expensive than their counterparts with conventional engines and will come with significant benefits in terms of energy efficiency, air pollution and running costs. National Grid is now forecasting 36m electric vehicles on the road by 2040 (FES 2018) and the Government aspires to ban conventional engines on the same timescale. However, the increased electrical demand from rising numbers of electric vehicles presents a significant challenge for electricity generation, transmission and distribution. A typical domestic charger draws the power of three kettles for several hours every day. If this extra demand occurs during the wrong time of day and coincides with everyone else charging, then our existing electrical infrastructure will fail to cope. Even if upgrading all our cables and substations were technically possible, would it ever be economically viable, and could it be done fast enough to match the rise of EVs? If we don’t upgrade our infrastructure, can smart-charging and vehicle-to-grid technologies (where plugged-in EVs pump some energy back into the grid) solve the problem?

Dr Ben Potter completed his MEng degree in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford in 2001 and his PhD research in the modelling of induction machines at the University of Reading in 2005. Dr Potter subsequently managed research and development activity for several years in industry, including development work on wireless power transfer systems, before joining the University of Reading in 2009. Ben is currently an Associate Professor of Energy Systems within the School of the Built Environment at the University, and his academic research has been largely focused on energy systems of various flavours, for over sixteen years, with applications including energy storage, network planning and modelling, and the integration of electric vehicles in the grid. Ben founded the Energy Research Lab in 2010, now part of the Technologies for the Sustainable Built Environment Centre, and this lab focuses on the development of control methods and business models for the new generation of energy networks – the smart grid – to ensure that the integration of active elements such as renewable energy resources, electric vehicles and energy storage devices will have positive impacts for both network operators and end users. Dr Potter has been a member of the DECC/Ofgem Smart Grid Forum Workstream 7, a member of the steering group of the Future Power Systems Architect (FPSA) project run by the IET and commissioned by DECC, and is presently a Science Board member for the EPSRC funded ‘Energy Superstore’ – the UK’s energy storage research hub.

Monday 5th November – Dr Matt Himsworth – What lurks beneath our feet?

Are there secret tunnels, diamond reserves or even a sinkhole ready to gobble us up? Surprisingly we know very little about what is below us, even the stuff that we put there! Science is coming up with increasingly clever ways to explore what lurks in the dark underground. This talk will discuss a recently developed technique that uses atomic clocks to measure the variation in gravity that dense or hollow objects produce. We aim to use this in a number of areas from helping civil engineers plan construction works to monitoring tectonic fault lines.

I started the Integrated Atom Chip Group in January 2011 after receiving a prestigious research fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering and EPSRC to explore enabling technologies for integrated atom chips. Previous to this I was a postdoc in the group of Axel Kuhn in Oxford working on atom-photon interactions, specifically tailored single photon sources from Cavity QED, slow and stored light in vapour cells and fast controllable dipole traps. I was at Southampton from an undergraduate all the way to my first postdoc position, obtaining a PhD along the ways, titled “Coherent Manipulation of Ultracold Rubidium”, in the group of Tim Freegarde

Mon 3rd December – Dr Stuart Skeates – Hampshire Fungi Recording Group