Sunday, April 14, 2024

£70m investment to help University of Nottingham power future transport to net zero

The University of Nottingham has secured more than £70 million to establish new world-leading and open-access research facilities and programmes that will decarbonise future transport.

The funding is secured based on a £14 million award from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF). This is augmented by both public and private co-investment that will allow the university to build on its existing internationally leading capabilities in electrification, hydrogen and manufacturing.

“This is one of the largest funding injections the East Midlands has ever seen, and the opportunities are clear for new research to enable the UK to take an international lead in powering transport,” said Chris Gerada, Professor of Electrical Machines and lead for strategic research and innovation initiatives at the University of Nottingham.

“Today’s investment accelerates our shared vision to create world-class facilities, build strategic partnerships with industry, stimulate investments in the UK, and drive economic growth. We’re grateful to UKRPIF and our industry partners for the trust they have put in us.”

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair at Research England, said: “I am pleased to be able to award four more universities funding from our flagship UK Research Partnership Investment Fund to create four centres in a diverse range of topics, from net zero aviation to wound research, and disease therapies to future transport.

“I very much look forward to seeing how these new facilities deliver against a variety of diverse challenges over the coming years.”

The facilities will enable scale up of a number of manufacturing processes for Electrical Machines and Drives being developed in UKRI’s Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centre (DER-IC).

From March 2025, the university will work closely with industry partners to demonstrate electrical machines and drives manufacturing for a range of propulsion, traction, and generator applications. The manufacturing facilities will also be available for industry co-location to accelerate new technology developments to market.

The facilities and programmes will also enable testing of novel powertrains, including cryogenic electrical machines and power electronics, systems fuelled by liquid hydrogen and other green fuels, as well as the opportunity to create advanced manufacturing capabilities to allow rapid market introduction of the latest research into decarbonised transport solutions where battery electric power is not viable.

Industry and researchers will be able to ‘plug and play’ disruptive heavy transport components and sub-systems. A new systems integration lab, operational by 2025, will support discovery of insights through performance evaluations under real-world environments with real component and sub-system interactions.

“Building on the university’s leading capabilities in zero carbon innovation, our open-access facilities will bring together partnerships at regional, national, and international level. We’re enabling collaboration with other higher education institutions, ensuring the highest-quality research and maximising academic, industrial and socioeconomic impact,” said Professor Tom Rodden, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham.

The university’s co-investment partners span a range of industries across aerospace, power generation, marine and off-highway. The facilities and programmes will be primarily based at the university’s Jubilee Campus and build upon recent investments such as the Power Electronics and Machines Centre (PEMC), the zero carbon innovation centre funded by East Midlands Freeport, as well as previous investments from Driving the Electric Revolution, Research England, EPSRC and D2N2. Together, they strengthen the university’s position as part of a national network of research, infrastructure, and skills development.

Harry Malins, Chief Innovation Officer at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said: “The University of Nottingham’s proposed facility will address some of the key areas for which open-access solutions do not yet exist in the UK, including test infrastructure for hydrogen systems at altitude and at high power conditions.”

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