The University of Manchester has been awarded nearly £8 million for two research projects as part of the Government’s strategy to invest in key technologies.
The funding – announced by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts today (Wednesday) – has been provided to universities following the Chancellor’s announcement of additional capital funding for the ‘eight great technologies’ in his pre-budget statement.
An award by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for £4.3 million has been given to Manchester scientists to develop advanced materials for demanding industrial environments.
A second EPSRC grant of £3.3 million – awarded jointly to Manchester and the University of Liverpool – will help establish state-of-the-art facilities to support the development of new energy storage devices that use graphene as a key component.
The Manchester-Liverpool consortium has been funded to create an interdisciplinary centre of energy storage research that will allow the transformation of batteries and super-capacitors into a viable option for wide-scale adoption in utility and grid applications.
Professor Ian Cotton, in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and who led the £3.3 million bid, said: “The University of Manchester is already home to the largest high voltage laboratory in the UK and a new grid-scale energy storage test facility will be made available to industrial partners to allow energy storage systems to be fully tested before widespread deployment.
“The funding that was provided for the development of national scale electricity storage promises massive benefits – in terms of savings on UK energy spend and in environmental benefits as it enables greater penetration of renewable generation technologies.”
He added: “The facility will be operational by 2014 and will provide the Northwest and the UK with a distinct advantage in the global research and development into advanced materials and manufacturing, which is vital to socio-economic improvement.”
Speaking about the successful £4.3 million bid, Professor Philip Withers, from Manchester’s School of Materials, said: “In the Government’s ‘eight great technologies’ report, advanced materials were identified as a key technological strength for the UK. The University of Manchester is already a centre of excellence in advanced materials, supporting the nuclear, aerospace and oil and gas sectors.”
Professor Andrew Sherry, Director of the University’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, added: “Global competitiveness in these sectors is dependent on the invention of materials able to operate under increasingly demanding environments; the £4.3 million investment will provide the equipment to probe and image the near-surface region as it is exposed to severe conditions, including corrosive, oxidising and radiation environments. This will provide the insights necessary to develop new materials, coatings and surface treatments to prevent failure.”
University Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Professor Colin Bailey, said: “We are delighted to be awarded these funds from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. They will provide world-leading research facilities at Manchester for our work on energy storage and advanced materials By ensuring the facilities that we develop are open to all our industrial partners, we will be able to accelerate innovation from the laboratory to market that will be of long-term benefit to the Northwest and the UK economy more widely.”
David Willetts said: “For Britain to get ahead in the global race we have to back emerging technologies and ensure our universities have the latest equipment. This capital investment will help scientists make new discoveries and take their research through to commercial success. It will drive growth and support the Government’s industrial strategy.”