NexSys researcher Dasun Lahiru Muthumala Jayasooriya, who is based at University of Galway, attended the National Ploughing Championships last week at the Engineers Ireland stand.
This is what he had to say about his experience:
“It was my first time attending the National Ploughing Championships and it blew me away. The scale of the event and the enthusiasm of people checking out the latest technologies and opportunities presented at the stalls was amazing to me. The Engineers Ireland stand was buzzing with people of all ages. It was exciting to see young people coming up to us and asking about engineering, while parents were keen on learning how their children could get into engineering, and little kids were building structures with Legos, showing their problem solving skills and curiosity. It was heartwarming to see families gather around and show interest in engineering, the profession I love. I hope I was able to light a spark inside at least one of those kids to become a future engineer.”
Here Dasun is pictured at the Engineers Ireland stand, with University of Galway postdoctoral researcher Dr Emmanuel Odey:
Monika da Silva Pedroso (NexSys Postdoctoral researcher) and Orla Dingley (NexSys PhD student) attended the European Network for Social Policy Analysis (EspaNet) conference in Warsaw, Poland, from 7 to 9 September. While there, they presented a work-in-progress project that Monika is leading, which is investigating if energy poverty has an impact on educational and cognitive outcomes. Their research is part of a NexSys Work Package entitled ‘Energy Justice: addressing transport & residential energy deprivation’. A key component of their project is to identify and evaluate eco-social policies which address both the environmental and social challenges associated with energy and a just transition.
Monika and Orla write about their experience below.
Neither of us had been to an EspaNet conference before, so we were excited to learn about the social policy research being carried out across Europe, but we had also never been to Poland before so were determined to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing too.
The conference was held at the University of Warsaw, which was only a 15-minute walk from our hotel. Since the weather was so beautiful, we walked everywhere.
There were a few other researchers and lecturers from the UCD Department of Social Policy presenting at the conference – seeing some familiar faces before presenting our work helped to ease our nerves.
The work we were presenting is an investigation into the implications of energy poverty on educational achievement. Our presentation led to a lively discussion on the conceptual differences between poverty-in-general and energy poverty. It was fascinating to meet researchers from other countries who were studying similar topics to ourselves but were looking at it from a different perspective.
Chopin and Copernicus are both from Poland, so Warsaw is filled with references to both famous figures. We managed to visit the Copernicus Science Centre on Friday evening, before heading to a conference dinner at the Gardens of the Royal Castle. Although we didn’t get a chance to visit the Chopin Museum, walking around the city we were often treated by the sound of Chopin being played by various street musicians.
We both loved our time in Warsaw, learning about the city and important aspects of Polish culture, as well as hearing many interesting and helpful comments on our research from fellow social policy researchers.
It was also great to have been able to experience it with a fellow member of the NexSys team!
Commuters in County Dublin prefer walking over bikes and e-scooters as a means of getting to and from work before or after a public transport journey, according to astudy co-authored by NexSys researchers recently published in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Cycling and Micromobility Research.
Micromobility – a term used to describe small, light electric vehicles such as bikes and e-scooters – is often promoted as a low-carbon alternative that can help people move away from using private cars and taxis since it can improve connectivity of existing public transport networks. However, there has been little research to date on micromobility as a travel choice in the first mile (also known as access trip) and last mile (egress trip) of a commute.
The study authors, through an online survey with 450 responses, investigated how commuters in County Dublin prefer to travel in the first- and last-mile of public transport trips. They also examined the influence of characteristics such as gender and age on people’s choice of micromobility, including shared bicycles and e-scooters, compared to walking.
In the survey, residents of County Dublin were asked about the mode of transport they would choose in hypothetical commute scenarios, including in the first mile of a commute with private bicycles and e-scooters, and in the last mile with shared bicycles and e-scooters.
Using statistical models to analyse the responses, the researchers found that walking was the preferred option for commuting for most respondents, even when other options were available and provided significant reductions in travel time.
“This was one of the more surprising outcomes of the survey,” said lead author Giulia Oeschger, PhD candidate at UCD’s School of Civil Engineering. “I was expecting a lot of people to be more concerned with travel time, since cycling and e-scooter-use drastically reduced travel time in the experiment, but despite this a lot of people still deliberately chose the walking option which is always the longest. The population of Dublin seems to really love walking and our survey shows they do it for enjoyment or for exercise. This seems to be a characteristic of the city of Dublin,” she said. However, how the available infrastructure and the perceived safety of cycling and e-scooter use on the streets of Dublin influence the results has not been looked at in this particular study, and is something that the authors feel should be investigated further.
Left: Lead author Giulia Oeschger; Right: Dr Páraic Carroll, Assistant Professor in UCD’s School of Civil Engineering and lead of the transport strand at NexSys at UCD
The authors also found important differences in transport preference in relation to gender and age. Young (less than 35 years old) and male respondents are significantly more likely to choose e-scooters and bicycles, while older and female respondents are significantly more likely to choose walking, even if other options were significantly faster. This is consistent with previous studies which also found that e-scooter users are predominantly young and male, the authors note in the paper.
Dr Páraic Carroll, Assistant Professor in Transport Engineering at UCD’s School of Civil Engineering and one of the authors of the study, states that “while the results of this study highlight that walking was the preferred choice for first and last mile segments of a journey, it also accounts for the existing limited ability to combine active modes or micromobility trips with public transport in Dublin and across the country due to, in some cases, modes not being well integrated with one another and the limitations in bringing private bikes or scooters onto public transport vehicles. However, the walkability of our access trips to and from public transport stops/stations is a key component influencing the attractiveness of public transport services.”
Availability of secure parking was an important consideration when it comes to choosing transport modes, the authors found.
The researchers argue that these results confirm that younger generations have a growing interest in micromobility, but regulations and adequate infrastructure are needed to promote equitable access to these modes of transport, with a particular focus on attracting users away from more carbon-intensive transport such as private cars and ride-hailing trips.
The paper co-authors are:
– Giulia Oeschger, PhD candidate at UCD’s School of Civil Engineering;
– Dr Páraic Carroll, Assistant Professor in UCD’s School of Civil Engineering and lead of the transport strand at NexSys at UCD;
– Professor Brian Caulfield,Professor in Transportation in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and funded investigator with NexSys. Giulia Oeschger and Dr Páraic Carroll are also part of theUCD Transport Research Hub (TREAH), which Dr Carroll leads.
This research is funded by University College Dublin, School of Civil Engineering, under the MicroActive Dublin research project.
About NexSys and its transport strand
Next Generation Energy Systems (NexSys) is an all-island, multidisciplinary energy research programme. NexSys is hosted by the UCD Energy Institute in partnership with eight other leading research institutions. 46 leading academics work in partnership with industry to tackle the challenges of energy decarbonisation, developing evidence-based pathways for a net zero energy system.
The NexSys transport research strand is investigating the critical infrastructure, behavioural and policy challenges of transitioning to decarbonised multi-modal transport and renewable energy use in a fair way, and identifying tangible evidence-based solutions via engagement and collaboration of key stakeholders tasked with implementing them.
NexSys PhD researcher Maryam Pourmahdi, based in UCD’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was recently awarded the Best Paper Award at the Universities Power Engineering Conference (UPEC) in TU Dublin.
We catch up with Maryam below.
What is your NexSys research about and what are you working on at the moment?
My research focuses on creating better and more efficient devices called “rectifiers” that convert alternating current (AC) from the grid to direct current (DC) for use in various applications like electric vehicle charging, power supplies, and hydrogen production. I’m currently working on a design that not only improves energy efficiency but also reduces electromagnetic interference noise, making it safer and more grid friendly. The title of my NexSys project is ‘Advanced Active rectifiers for grid connected applications.’
How did you become interested in this research field?
I was initially intrigued by the challenges of modern power systems and the importance of energy efficiency. With the growing demand for DC power in various applications, the role of rectifiers becomes critical. This led me to explore how these devices could be designed to be more efficient, reliable, and compatible with the power grid.
What is one interesting fact about your research area people may not know about?
My research offers ‘grid-friendly’ rectifiers that not only reduce electrical noise but also maintain stable interactions with the electrical grid. This is critical for preventing disruptions and failures. Additionally, my work has applications in electrolysers for green hydrogen production, making them more efficient and compact.
What is the wider relevance of your research to the energy transition?
The efficiency and reliability of rectifiers are paramount, especially when applied to electrolysers—devices pivotal to the production of green hydrogen, an emerging clean energy source. As the world shifts towards cleaner energy solutions, my research on advanced rectifiers can significantly enhance the efficiency of hydrogen production systems. This translates to reduced energy waste, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and more affordable green hydrogen, potentially accelerating policy shifts towards this sustainable energy option.
You recently won a Best Paper Award at the Universities Power Engineering Conference in TU Dublin. Congratulations! What was the paper about?
The paper title was “Dual-Cuk High Step-up Bridgeless PFC Converters with Continuous Input and Output Currents”. This paper proposes two novel types of dual-Cuk bridgeless rectifiers for voltage conversion in power systems. These grid-friendly rectifiers overcome the limitations of conventional boost rectifiers and offer several significant advantages including high reliability, low voltage stress across the semiconductors, continuous input and output current, and high step-up voltage operation capability.
What is something people may find surprising about you?
Outside the lab, I have a passion for painting and portraiture, where I find a different kind of creative expression compared to my scientific work. I also enjoy playing the guitar, which serves as a melodic break from the analytical world. Additionally, I love feeding birds; it’s a simple act that brings me immense joy and a sense of connection to nature.
NexSys researchers were delighted to take part in the EirGrid Research Forum which took place on 29 August in Dublin.
EirGrid is one of NexSys’ industry co-funding partners, which include Ireland’s leading energy providers.
Three NexSys researchers shared their current research and findings on topics ranging from inverters and the grid, gender and the energy transition, and the role of data centres in future energy systems.
Associate Professor Paula Carroll (pictured below), a NexSys funded investigator who is based in UCD’s School of Business, gave a presentation entitled Gender Mainstreaming in the European Union Energy Transition. She discussed the results of her recent literature review on the Energy/Gender nexus.
Associate Professor Terence O’Donnell (pictured below), NexSys Co-Lead of the Energy Systems Strand and based in UCD’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, gave a talk entitled Harmonic resonances associated with grid connected inverters. As part of his presentation, he covered results of recent published research co-authored with Dr Ramy Ali.
Alireza Etemad (pictured below), NexSys PhD student based in UCD’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, presented his research on The Role of Data Centres as Prosumers in Future Energy Systems. Alireza, who is working with Associate Professor James O’Donnell as part of his PhD, is also a Senior Energy Policy Researcher at SEAI’s Decarbonised Heat Group.
Next Generation Energy Systems (NexSys) is an all-island multidisciplinary research programme, involving nine different research institutions, alongside industry partners from across the energy sector. The programme’s key aims include tackling the challenges of energy decarbonisation, and developing evidence-based pathways for a just, net-zero energy system.
NexSys is financially supported by Science Foundation Ireland under the SFI Strategic Partnership Programme (Grant Number 21/SPP/3756), industry co-funding partners, and a philanthropic donation by Mr David O’Reilly. NexSys’ nine industry co-funding partners are: EirGrid, ESB Group, Davy, Atlantic Hub, CIE, RWE, EPRI, Gas Networks Ireland and SSE Airtricity. In addition, NexSys has an extensive network of collaborating partners, which will be essential in providing an evidence base for policy and delivery of services.
In the latest installment of Silicon Republic’s series on Ireland’s research leaders, Creating the Future, NexSys Director Prof Andrew Keane is interviewed by CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic Ann O’Dea about his research career as well as NexSys’ work and mission.
In a wide ranging conversation, they discuss decarbonisation of the electricity system, the need for multidisciplinary research in the context of the energy transition, advice for researchers interested in getting involved in the net-zero effort, and Keane’s background and career path, with time spent in industry and academia, as well as his passion for coffee!