Areas of ExcellenceSustainability

Building on the region's internationally-leading strengths in the sustainable sciences, the focus of the sustainability theme is supporting four key areas:

Energy Research - the University's research capability in this area are based at the Sir Joseph Swan Institute for Energy Research. Work at the centre aims to address climate change and energy security as well as looking at developing cleaners ways to power our homes, businesses and transport networks of the future. Areas of research at the Centre include: sustainable biofuels; fuel cell & hydrogen technology; CarbonNeutral technologies and renewable electricity.

Marine - The School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University is the largest and broadest-based marine school in the UK, covering the fields of marine engineering, marine biology, naval architecture, offshore engineering, coastal management and small craft technology.

Transport - The focus of transport technology research at Newcastle University focusses on four themes: making transport greener; developing new intelligent technologies which improve efficiency and safety of transport; designing safe and secure transport infrastructure and developing a fully-inclusive transport system.

Urban Sustainability - Sustainable urban planning is concerned with urban energy consumption, water provision, waste water treatment. transport infrastructure and land use development. The work at Newcastle University integrates a range of disciplines including engineering, geochemistry, microbiology and the social sciences to develop solutions which enable fully sustainable cities to be achieved.

 

First Class Facilities

The region has capitalised upon it's strength in this sector by building an excellent infrastructure which links public sector, private sector and the region's universities. Among organisations supporting the work are the Universities of Newcastle, Durham and Northumbria, the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC), the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), including the Plastic Electronics Centre (PeTEC) and numerous innovative private sector companies, from start-up businesses to global players.

The New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) capitalises on the region’s world-class science and industrial base to deliver an internationally recognised facility for fast-tracking new and renewable energy R&D through to commercialisation.  NaREC’s activities directly address the key economic and performance drivers of wind, wave, current, solar, biomass and clean fuel energies in order to accelerate and exploit future markets.

The Centre for Process Innovation  (CPI) develops products, solutions, services and businesses in the process and manufacturing sectors.  It was brought together in April 2008 by the merger of two UK government-backed Centres of Excellence, both formed in 2004: the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) on Teesside and the Centre for Nanotechnology, Microtechnology and Photonics (Cenamps) in Newcastle.  Across its specialist technology areas, CPI delivers a unique portfolio of services to the global business community: process innovation; consultancy and research; and the formation and management of development partnerships and joint ventures.

The Sir Joseph Swan Institute is an interdisciplinary research institute within Newcastle University. It provides the focus for energy related research across the University and incorporates researchers from 11 academic schools specialising in:

  • natural science
  • social science
  • engineering

The researchers involved with the Institute already have extensive industrial collaborations and the close integration of the research team enhances the industrial offering.

The Institute provides the vehicle for inter-institution collaboration and bridges academia, other centres such as NaREC and CPI, the regional development agency and industry.

Key Facts

  • North East England is recognised as having deeper roots in energy science and engineering than any other region in the world.
  • The region is home to the UK's most energy intensive industries in the Tees Valley, and hosts unique translational research and design facilities, most notably, NaREC, CPI and Northumbria Design School. All of these elements provide a unique UK test bed for new energy technologies and services.
  • Already estimated to be worth around £900m, the energy sector is also one of the most productive sectors in the region, employing around 30,000 people and with more than £6bn currently being invested in novel energy projects over the next few years.
  • The sector has the potential to generate around £2bn of new economic growth for the region's economy.
  • The Newcastle University, Sir Joseph Swan Institute for Energy Research, is housed in the award winning Devonshire Building, a flagship environmental building, adopting the highest standards of sustainable design, which since its completion has won several prestigious awards for environmental architecture and construction.
  • 2009 saw the mass production of electric cars in the UK take a giant stride forward with Nissan’s announcement that it will build its new electric battery plant in North East England.
  • North East England is to play a key part in the largest programme of real-world trials ever seen of electric and low-carbon cars. 35 cars developed in the region will be trialled with Nissan, Smith Electric Vehicles in partnership with LTI, AVID Vehicles, Liberty Electric Cars, Newcastle University and One North East all involved. The project will include 15 Nissan cars, 10 Smith electric taxis, five Smith people carriers, a Smith executive minibus, two AVID saloon cars and two Liberty urban Range Rovers, alongside a network of charging points. Newcastle University’s Transport Operations Research Group will monitor and model the performance and use of the vehicles.

Case Studies

Carbon Capture Technology - How coal could be king once more

A team of North-East scientists has embarked on a major study of a technology that could help reduce the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The work by the Newcastle University-led project team links expertise developed in the region’s coalmining industry with cutting-edge modern research.

At the heart of the project is Underground Coal Gasification with Carbon Capture and Storage (UCG-CSS).

The process involves the gasification of coal in the seam through the introduction of hot steam and oxygen. The resultant gas mixture, syngas, can be used as chemical feedstock for products ranging from plastics to liquid transport fuels or for driving turbines to generate electricity.

Under the leadership of the Sir Joseph Swan Institute of Energy Research, the university team brought together leading UK specialists to investigate the potential, funded by One North East.

Find out more at www.ncl.ac.uk/ihg.

New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) powers the future

Technology experts from the UK’s leading renewable energy R&D centre, which is based in the North-East, are working on ways that communities can generate and distribute their own energy.

The New and Reneweable Energy Centre (NaREC), based in Blyth, Northumberland, has been working with its counterpart at the National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain (CENER) to create new ways of generating and distributing power from small-scale renewables.

NAREC also works with major industrial players with a major speciality developing more efficient ways of harnessing wind energy.

Find out more at www.narec.co.uk.

Acceleration of electric vehicle trials

North East England is to play a key part in the largest programme of real-world trials ever seen of electric and low-carbon cars. 35 cars developed in the region will be trialled with Nissan, Smith Electric Vehicles in partnership with LTI, AVID Vehicles, Liberty Electric Cars, Newcastle University and One North East all involved.

The project will include 15 Nissan cars, 10 Smith electric taxis, five Smith people carriers, a Smith executive minibus, two AVID saloon cars and two Liberty urban Range Rovers, alongside a network of charging points.

Newcastle University’s Transport Operations Research Group will monitor and model the performance and use of the vehicles.

Robotics system set to revolutionise cleaning of ships

An automated robotic cleaning system that removes marine growth from the hull of a ship is being pioneered at Newcastle University.

Set to revolutionise the cleaning and management of ships the robot offers a solution to high fuel costs and marine related pollution while removing harmful, non-indigenous species that could be transferred to local waters.

Operating like an automatic carpet cleaner, the robot has been developed out of an EU-funded project called HISMAR (Hull Indentification System for Marine Autonomous Robotics) and is able to navigate its own way across the ship's hull.

Newcastle University's Jonathan Heslop a researcher on the project, said: "All other developed cleaning or inspection systems currently available are remotely controlled during their operation, requiring highly skilled and experienced operators to effectively clean the hull, while the ship is out of operation and usually out of water.

The advantage of the HISMAR robot is that it is an autonomous system so it can continue cleaning with the ship remaining in service - feeding back hull information as it does so - resulting in very little build of growth, reduced fuel costs and much less pollution."