Government commits 60 million of funding to universities in the midlands

The Government has today confirmed £60 million for a new energy research project in the Midlands.

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a multimillion research hub which will build on the expertise of six leading midlands universities, the British Geological Survey and the surrounding industrial base to deliver a step change in energy research and development, securing the UK’s leadership position in the sector.

The ERA will build upon the power of advanced manufacturing, multi-disciplinary research and industry expertise within the Midlands Region and the leadership of the M6 Group of Universities by supporting the exceptionally strong regional industrial base to harness the potential of its cities, as well as by bringing together leading academics in energy research with a proven track record of successfully working at the interface of academia, policy and industry.

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Martin Barstow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Head of the College of Science & Engineering, Professor of Astrophysics & Space Science and President of the Royal Astronomical Society said: “One of the greatest challenges to the Government and wider society is the availability of secure and sustainable power generation. The Energy Research Accelerator will be key to delivering the solutions to this problem. The University of Leicester is excited to be part of this project and we welcome the funding commitment outlined by the Chancellor in his budget.”

The University has world leading environmental research and particular expertise in environmental monitoring of energy generation activities. There is key research into the understanding and modelling of material properties for turbo-machinery (with Alstom Power), including high temperature applications, management of power transmission systems against corrosion fatigue and hydrogen embrittlement of materials in undersea pipelines.

A major activity, in collaboration with Alstom Grid, is developing future power transmission to exploit the efficiency gains of transmission using high voltage direct current systems. This addresses the large scale, involving national grid infrastructures, as well as small scale for offshore wind farms and local micro-grids.

Leicester is leading the world in the development of a new generation of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) that convert waste heat from radioactive decay into electrical power, as well as novel radioisotope containment systems, which will ensure the safe use of this technology.

The ERA will operate demonstrators in both the city and campus environments and harness the potential of advanced manufacturing, enabling the faster deployment of new technologies to deliver competitive advantage and a step change in economic impact.