World Class Science – The Four Science Themes

Professor Dermot Roddy talks about Energy & Environment

The City of Newcastle is famous the world over as the birthplace of ‘Carboniferous Capitalism’, as home to the first industrial-scale coal mines anywhere in the world in the late 16th Century. Four centuries later, Newcastle Science City is becoming a global leader in the shift to a low-carbon energy economy. In the context of both mounting anxiety over rapid climate change and recent predictions that the worldwide peak of hydrocarbon production will occur before 2021, this shift is sought with ever-greater urgency. 

The Energy and Environment Theme of Newcastle Science City represents a fusion between industry and the research base. Building on internationally-leading strengths of the region, the focus of the Energy and Environment theme is on five key strands:

  • Photovoltaics (PV) of tomorrow: accelerating uptake of near-market technologies and exploring new flexible polymer PV.
  • Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technologies: overcoming complex barriers to commercial uptake of fuel cells and providing safe storage of hydrogen.
  • Energy Biosciences, promoting sustainable energy cropping; applying genomics to the development of carbon-neutral biofuels that neither displace food production nor lead to habitat destruction; biofuel development from cellulose obtained by autoclaving municipal wastes; directly removing CO2 from the atmosphere and permanently trapping it in organic sediments, thus also combating global depletion of essential soil nutrients
  • Clean Energy from the Geosphere: development of the globally unique GREAT Institute (Geothermal Research Education and Training), to raise the technical level and skills base of the geothermal heat pump sector; exploiting hitherto unrecognised geothermal resources associated with ancient hydrothermal structures; and responsibly exploiting fossil fuels, both using biotechnologies and by underground coal gasification coupled to carbon capture and storage.
  • Carbon Neutral Culture: developing robust tools for determining the carbon footprints of businesses and cities, and implementing carbon emission reduction strategies at the regional scale through a pioneering Carbon Neutral Agency.

The Energy and Environment Theme is the locus of intensified collaboration between:

  • 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 highly innovative start-up companies to global players in the energy and finance sectors.

Welcome to the future

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Further Information

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BBC Science & Nature
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International Centre for Life
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