Toby Peters, long-time advocate of UK-based innovation in energy systems and founder of Highview Power and the Dearman Engine Company, has been appointed Visiting Professor in Power and Cold Economy at the University of Birmingham.

To gasworld readers, Peters is perhaps most synonymous with the growing ‘cold economy’ movement – and the liquid air concept in particular.

As the need for ‘cold’ across the globe increases with a rising demand for air conditioning, industrial and medical cooling and refrigerated food storage and transport, a radical new, sustainable approach needs to be taken to the way ‘cold’ is provided and recycled.

Most countries have energy policies covering power, transport and heat, but cooling is largely overlooked. Globally the energy needed to provide cooling is already prodigious and if the projected growth in demand were satisfied using conventional technologies, the cost, carbon emissions and air pollution would be ruinous.

For example, if current trends in refrigerant usage were to continue, it is predicted that hydroflourocarbons would be responsible for nearly half of the global greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.  

But currently large amounts of cold are not being harnessed and are going to waste, especially with the regasification of LNG – essentially gas packaged in cold for ease of transport by sea where the ‘packaging’ is then normally thrown away when the gas is re-gasified to go into the national gas grid. 

Toby-Peters-Dearman

Professor Peters said, “I have been leading the development of liquid air as a new energy vector for many years and am delighted to now be part of the team at Birmingham. The demand for cold is booming across the world, particularly in the developing world, as modern life demands cooling in all sorts of ways from air conditioning to the cold chain of refrigerated warehouses and vehicles needed to preserve and transport food from farm to fork.”

“But with the magnitude of the demand, we need a system level approach supported by a range of solutions if emissions and CO2 are not to run out of control. ‘Clean cold’ is the new, multi-billion pound opportunity and the UK’s strengths in mechanical engineering, energy systems and cryogenic research mean it is well-placed to be a world leader.”

Peters’ position will be hosted within the Birmingham Energy Institute, which sits across the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the College of Social Sciences. The centre provides a platform for developing major interdisciplinary projects in energy technology and policy. 

Professor Richard Williams, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, added, “We are delighted to appoint Toby Peters to this new position within the College. As well as contributing to teaching and seminars in energy policy, he will support communications activities with key external stakeholders and industry around the need to produce and harness cold and the need to create a sustainable cold infrastructure.”