The SPIRE2 Project Team

  • Professor Neil Hewitt (Principal Investigator)

    Professor Neil J Hewitt is Director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at Ulster University and is the Principle Investigator on the SPIRE project.

    He has attracted over £12M in external funding including EPSRC, EU and international sources.

    With over 100 journal publications ranging from large scale power generation to heat pumps and demand side management, he is ideally placed to lead SPIRE with his specialist knowledge of a wide range of technologies and their potential integration.

  • Dr. Philip Griffiths (Co-Investigator)

    Dr Philip Griffiths is Reader in Thermal Energy Storage Integration and Associate Head of the School of the Built Environment.

    He is a building physicist and chartered engineer, with a background in energy efficiency in buildings. He has worked for Ulster University since 1994 initially as a researcher and since 2005 as an academic. He undertook six years researching novel vacuum glazing fabrication techniques, experimental performance testing and computer thermal modelling. Since 2000 he has been researching novel use of phase change materials in buildings as energy storage and transport phenomena.

    He also undertakes research into low energy buildings, building retrofit and associated thermal comfort conditions. Since 1996 he has been a named or principal investigator on EU and EPSRC funded research. He was one of two UK Experts on the EU ESF COST funded network Novel Phase Change Materials for Buildings and Renewable Energy Systems.

    Currently he is Ulster’s lead investigator on the EU FP7 funded MERITS project developing a novel thermo-chemical seasonal energy storage system for low energy houses.

  • Dr. Ye Huang, BSc, MSc, PhD, CEng, MEI (Co-Investigator)

    Dr Ye Huang is a Reader of Clean Coal Technologies at Ulster University. He joined the Energy Research Centre, Ulster University in 1994 and completed a PhD in 1998 in the field of Clean Coal Technologies.

    He is both a versatile, successful researcher and developer within energy system modelling and energy conversion systems. He has some 25 years experience with scenario analyses of fossil fuel and biomass/waste utilisation, systems development, energy and environmental research.

    He has wide experience in establishing multi-partner collaboration projects to develop and exploit fossil fuel and biomass/waste (including co-utilisation) technologies, covering all aspects of technical and economic modelling and assessment studies.

    He has also extensive experience of gasification and gas turbines, including defining CO2 capture and storage strategies. He has worked on a number of projects funded by European Commission and EPSRC in the area of energy production and carbon capture and storages. He has published over 35 high impact journal articles and 30 conference proceedings and technical reports since 2006.

  • Dr. Ming Jun Huang (Co-Investigator)

    Dr Ming Jun Huang is a Reader and Course Director for MSc Renewable Energy and Energy Management in Ulster University.

    Prior to this she worked as Research Assistant and later Research Associate on Solar Energy thermal application in buildings and Research Fellow on Heat Pump Applications. She gained a BEng (Hons) in Building Services Engineering at the Beijing University of Technology in 1988 after which she stayed as a Teaching Assistant and then Lecturer.

    She was awarded a DPhil in Solar Energy Engineering from the University of Ulster in 2002 and a Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice from the University of Exeter in 2008, where she worked later as a Lecturer in Renewable Energy.

    Dr Ming Jun Huang’s research expertise include: Energy Storage, Solar energy thermal application; Building Integrated Photovoltaic thermal regulation; Heat transfer enhancement; Efficient cooling technology; HVAC/CAD software development and application; Air-source Heat Pump; Numerical modelling of fluid flow and heat transfer; Phase change material for thermal energy storage and thermal regulation; Heat exchanger design and optimisations and CFD. Her research has been supported by the UK Engineering Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), European FP7 Funding and the industrial companies.

  • Dr. Patrick Keatley (Research Fellow)

    Dr Patrick Keatley is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Ulster University.

    His main area of research is the integration of renewable energy, in particular the economic impact of the variability management methods required to assimilate large-scale renewables into existing power systems, such as grid-scale energy storage and the dynamic operation of thermal plant.

    His PhD subject was the techno-economic analysis of the off-design operation of large thermal natural gas and coal-fired generators in high wind-penetration scenarios. Before joining Ulster University, Dr Keatley worked as an inspection engineer in the offshore oil and gas industry in the Americas, Middle East, Asia and Europe.

  • Steven Devlin

    Steven has been a researcher at Ulster since 2003, more recently with the responsibility of developing and managing Ulster-led projects.  Having successfully managed the Interreg IVA SPIRE project, he is now the Project Manager of SPIRE2. He has worked on numerous EU projects, with both as researcher and with a responsibility of administering project budgets, and has been involved with Interreg-funded projects since 2008, including the Interreg IIIA Netwell Project, Interreg IVB MyHealth@Age & SuLA projects and Interreg IVA SPIRE.

    As Project Manager of SPIRE2, Steven will be responsible for ensuring deliverables, outputs and results are delivered on time, financial and progress reporting and providing a link between the partners and the funder.

  • Dominic McLarnon

    Mr Dominic McLarnon is an experienced research engineer, spin-out developer and research programme facilitator. He will deliver the cross-institutional exit strategy through a technology translator role, seeking new research avenues and commercialisation funds while extensively publishing on cross-disciplinary policy related aspects.

    He will build upon his widespread international and national links gained when as the Northern Ireland Contact Point for EU research in Energy to ensure that every opportunity is revealed to all project partners.

    This will in turn realise new project relationships, new methods of interdisciplinary and collaborative working.


Professor John Morrow (Partner Lead)

University of Strathclyde

Professor Margaret Stack

Dundalk Institute of Technology

Dr. Paul MacArtain (Co-Investigator)

Paul MacArtain is a researcher at Dundalk Institute of Technology, a partner in the INTERREG IVA funded SPIRE project led by the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at Ulster University.

Working in renewable energy since 2006 Dr. MacArtain has participated in a number of INTERREG IVA funded projects in the renewable energy area including BioMara and the Energy Efficiency and Microgeneration project.

The current area of research includes flow battery technologies on industrial sites and Dundalk IT has both electrical and thermal energy storage at kWh scale on campus, and operating these facilities will contribute to the learnings from project SPIRE.

Mr. Raymond Byrne MSc (Co-Investigator)

Raymond Byrne has been working in applied research at Dundalk Institute of Technology since 2005. His research interests include small and medium scale wind systems, wind auto-production and the application of energy storage with wind energy.

He had carried out a number of renewable energy related projects with industry and has presented at numerous national and international conferences on wind energy and energy storage.

He is responsible for the operation of an 850 kW rated wind turbine at the Institute. He is a member of two International Electrotechnical Council (IEC) technical committees concerning international standards development for wind turbines (TC 88) and electrical energy storage systems (TC 120).

He is also involved with the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wind Task 27, which concerns small scale wind turbines in zones of high wind turbulence. Raymond has a BSc honours degree in Applied Physics and an MSc in Renewable Energy Systems Technology.

Industrial Partners

The rationale for funding of two SPIRE 2 industrial partners is that of facilitating cooperation at all levels of the project namely PhD, PDRA, academic and other industrial partners.

This will in turn deliver industrial research i.e. "Industrial research means the planned research or critical investigation aimed at the acquisition of new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services or for bringing about a significant improvement in existing products, processes or services. It comprises the creation of components of complex systems, which is necessary for the industrial research, notably for generic technology validation, to the exclusion of prototypes."

Thus the programme of research has been geared around evaluation of current energy storage products within new electricity market structures and the development of enhanced/new products that would operate cost-effectively within new market structures.

Consequently SPIRE 2 will support the generation of new products and new business opportunities.