Scientists receive funding to help transition to low-carbon world

Experts from the University of Nottingham have received £2million in funding towards its testing facilities for electric machines, a huge step towards carbon neutrality and a big step towards tackling climate change.

The funding has been made by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and Scottish Funding Council.

It is one of nine projects that are set to improve their environmental sustainability, thanks to an £18.9 million funding boost.

The investment will support universities to enhance, upgrade and adapt research centres and facilities to reduce their carbon emissions, and make research processes more environmentally sustainable.

Funding has been made available through a pilot initiative to explore how existing UKRPIF-funded research centres and facilities can be enhanced to address net zero carbon emissions targets.

As 23% of the UK’s CO2 is emitted from buildings and building usage, the nine projects will contribute to the government’s target to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 and achieve net zero by 2050. They also support UKRI’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which aims to raise the standard for environmental sustainability across the UK’s research and innovation sector.

As we make the transition to a low carbon world our everyday lives will be powered increasingly by electric machines using renewable electricity. These machines are already more and more visible in transport such as electric cars, vans and buses. They may well soon become normal for regional electric aircraft too.

The Power Electronics and Machines Centre (PEMC) at the University of Nottingham has been designing, building and testing new electric machines for the past two decades. To help accelerate the technology development process the University has built a new development and testing centre where prototype electric machines of all sizes can be designed, manufactured and tested.

Testing these machines uses a lot of electricity so the PEMC research team and its industrial project partner Cummins have designed a large battery storage system charged with renewable energy from a variety of sources to provide as much renewable energy as possible for testing the electric machines.

This means that the process of developing efficient and low carbon electric machines for our everyday lives will also be low carbon. In doing this the University, Cummins and the project funder, Research England, are demonstrating their commitment to tackling climate change.

“We are really grateful to UK-RPIF for this opportunity to enable our exciting new PEMC Building move towards carbon neutrality using some of the technology created in part by the PEMC Research Group making the building an even more exciting and sustainable showcase for our work.”

Research England Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said: “The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund has a strong track record in funding state-of-art facilities that support world-leading research and strengthen partnerships between universities and other organisations active in research.

“By piloting these innovative approaches to tackling net zero in infrastructure, we hope that this scheme will help us to learn more about what works so that we and the HE sector can factor this into future activity and build upon the already successful UKRPIF model.”

Professor Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC and sponsor for Environmental Sustainability and Net Zero in UKRI, said:

“Our Environmental Sustainability Strategy commits UKRI to supporting the research sector to reduce its negative environmental impacts.

“This funding will help these leading national centres and facilities develop innovative solutions to reducing energy demand and increasing the use of renewable power in some unique research environments.

“UKRI is proud of its role in helping reduce carbon emissions from delivering cutting-edge research outputs in support of institutional and national net zero targets.”

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