Resource efficiency helps prevent depletion of resources, minimising environmental impact whilst protecting materials security. It also contributes significantly to the low-carbon economy. Current challenges include reducing the cost of offshore renewable energy and storage, managing declining oil and gas supplies and reducing the risks to the environment.
Fossil fuels and mineral extraction
Despite the advances in renewable energy, we are still reliant on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. As supplies of fossil fuels decrease, research at the University of Leicester focuses on developing technology to increase their efficiency and help discover and access new reserves. At Leicester, we are investigating the possibilities of extracting fossil fuels from previously inaccessible reserves, such as deep sea extraction.
Our experts in bore-hole research, Earth observation and geocomputing have the equipment and know-how to combine satellite data with geophysical studies. Our academics also assess the risks and characteristics of potential extractions by combining borehole research with seismic and electromagnetic techniques, providing vital data to companies involved in extraction. We also provide training to industry in the latest developments and techniques, and loan equipment through the SEIS-UK programme, hosted at Leicester.
As well as fossil fuels, we specialise in mineral extraction, with research focusing on valuable metals such as copper, gold and platinum.
Mineral deposits, mineralisation and metallogenesis
This strategically-important research investigates occurrences of copper, gold and platinum and the processes that produce various types of deposit. Current research examines specific examples of metal deposits in the UK, Greenland, Australia, Chile, Greece, Africa and the western Pacific. As part of this research, we are leading important developments in 3D X-ray computed tomography techniques in mineralogical analysis.
Our key academic in this research is Dr Gawen Jenkin.
Loan of equipment – SEIS-UK
SEIS-UK provides field equipment, computers and software for experiments involving onshore recording of both earthquakes and controlled seismic sources. The SEIS-UK team provides expertise and training in the use of field equipment and the associated data management systems.
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Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, so predicting the changing demands on production caused by a population that is growing in numbers as well as wealth is vital to our economy. In addition to the extra volume of food required, there are increased demands for higher-quality produce, finite production space and the added challenges of climate and environmental changes leading to less predictable weather patterns.
The key challenges we are tackling include:
- Increasing crop productivity and sustainability without impairing quality
- Reducing waste
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
We are leading the way in finding solutions to these challenges. By analysing satellite data, we can detect sources of pollution and assess land cover, helping to maximise crop potential. Our academics in chemistry and geography have provided vital data to businesses by combining gas monitoring and Earth observation.
We also run a number of specialist programmes and research groups to meet the specific needs of industry. Our engineering experts investigate making systems more efficient, which has led to improvements in refrigeration.
Land Use Management: Improving Crop Yield
We have worked with agronomists Field Technique to develop and apply Earth observation solutions to improve the data available to businesses involved in the production, processing and marketing of arable crops. Currently, agriculture management is guided by changes in crop and soil conditions over a large area but not within individual fields. We have shown the potential of remote sensing to identify small-scale changes within single fields, opening up micro-scale management for small producers.