The Centre started back in 2012 and I was actually part of the first cohort of Graduate Researchers. I worked on my PhD in collaboration with a local SME (Fern Innovation) developing small scale in-stream riverine hydro-turbines.
My research looked at the barriers to small-scale hydro development in a bid to inform future turbine designs and permitting procedures. Not only did this project feed into the development of a patented in-stream hydro-turbine, it also helped kick start my career in knowledge exchange. Having worked on a collaborative project with an industrial partner I can really understand the value of Universities working in collaboration with SMEs to develop eco-innovative products and services.
In my current role as an Innovation Fellow, I have been continuing this work and have helped to test the newly developed and patented river turbine, the River Power Pod. Consequently, my days have been spent using flow metres in man-made channels and rivers to assess the potential effectiveness of turbine.
No two days are ever the same and that's what makes it so professionally rewarding and interesting. I’m as likely to find myself in the field carrying out research as I am sat behind a desk - which from my perspective is always a good thing.
It’s also an incredibly exciting project to be involved with, as the outcome of this research could bring far-reaching benefits. Currently, 1.3 billion people around the world live without direct access to electricity, while 170 million of these live within one kilometre of a river or stream.
I’ve always been passionate about renewable energy and this innovation has the potential to make a massive difference globally. Professionally and personally, it’s an incredibly satisfying project to be a part of.
About the Author:
Laura O’Keefe is an Innovation Fellow at the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation based in the Lancaster Environment Centre. Her focus is on low carbon research and development with SMEs. Her previous research has concentrated on assessing the environmental impact of renewable energies.