Thursday, February 19, 2015

News: University's Energy 2050 initiative

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Advanced manufacturing, nuclear manufacturing, healthcare technologies, the digital creative sector - now the University of Sheffield is targeting research into the wider energy sector - a move which could lead to another national demonstration facility at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing moved into a purpose-built facility in 2004 as the anchor tenant on AMP. Its focus is on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is a partnership between industry and academia, which has become a model for research centres worldwide.

A focus for the UK's nuclear supply chain, the Nuclear AMRC took possession of its multimillion pound facility on the AMP in October 2011. In 2013, the university secured funding to develop the model into new areas – healthcare technologies and the creative and digital sectors. Based in the Design, Prototyping & Testing Centre on the AMP, the Medical AMRC ensures the results of internationally significant research are developed into products and brought to market quickly and cost effectively.

Now the University of Sheffield has set its sights on tackling the world's greatest energy challenges by bringing together university research, industry innovation and government policy.

More than 40 new leading academic energy researchers will significantly expand the University's existing expertise in energy research as part of the Energy 2050 initiative – a world-leading hub of excellence set up to address the "trilemma" of making energy more affordable, secure and sustainable.

The UK is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050, but that target will only be achieved by transforming the way energy is supplied and used. Energy 2050 will explore how the country can move to a secure, affordable low-carbon energy system by this date.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said: "The University of Sheffield is very fortunate to have attracted this key group of international scholars in such a vital area. The team is rightly ambitious to make a real impact in energy research and innovation, with application here in the UK and around the world.

"Our aim is simple - to bring together this superb expertise with our powerful existing capability, to be the place government and industry from around the world know they will find a complete energy capability."

With the multi-disciplinary energy research team put in place, future plans include creating a national demonstration facility at the AMP. Going beyond traditional university research activities, Energy 2050 will also use expertise from the AMRC to help de-risk investment in innovative energy technologies through national testing facilities, from proof-of-concept to staged scale-up.

Jon Price, University Director of Energy Innovation, who is leading Energy 2050, explained: "Our first step is to build our talent pool of resources, by expanding our team of experienced academics with a strong track record in developing industrial relations, combining with our existing resource strengths in science, engineering and social sciences, supported by senior resources from industry and seconded civil servants we are able to have a unique energy team.

"We will now be defining our plans for a national demonstration facility at the Advanced Manufacturing Park. Key to success, given the scale of the global energy challenge, will be a national facility that will enable us to work collaboratively together with research groups industry and international government agencies, pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology. This will help de-risk the investment grade levels of finance required from industry and governments around the world which will in turn allow us to make a major influence on our future energy security, affordability and sustainability."

University of Sheffield website
AMRC website

Images: University of Sheffield

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