Energy research at our University set to accelerate following 180M investment

Our University is set to play a crucial role in the next step towards the transformation of the UK’s energy sector after the Government confirmed £60m investment for the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA). The investment is backed by a further £120 million from the private sector and Midlands Innovation universities.

Professor Martin Barstow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor & Head of College and President, Royal Astronomical Society, said: “Security of energy supply and efficiency of energy usage are among the biggest challenges facing the UK.  The Energy Research Accelerator will make great strides in solving these problems with key contributions from the University of Leicester.”

ERA is set to become a world-leading hub of energy talent, technology research, development and deployment, based on the internationally renowned academic expertise and industrial heritage of the Midlands. Industry investors include Blueprint, Cofely, Dearman Engines, Highview and Jaguar Land Rover.

The announcement is a milestone for Leicester who will now work in partnership with the five other leading UK universities forming the Midlands Innovation group – Aston University, The University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, The University of Nottingham, The University of Warwick – and the British Geological Survey.

The funding will create new world-class facilities to meet the challenges of developing affordable low-carbon energy and technologies for greater energy efficiency. The initiative will bring together the best in energy research and build upon the Midlands’ extensive industrial base.

ERA’s research will be focused on the complementary Thermal (T-ERA), Integrated Systems (I-ERA) and Geo-Energy (G-ERA) research themes.

The University of Leicester’s atmospheric chemistry and Earth observation science group, led by Professor Paul Monks, will be involved in developing above and below-ground innovative monitoring of volatile organic compound (VOC) gas emissions.  A suite of instrumentation is proposed to develop down-hole gas monitoring probe, small sensor emissions array and VOC fingerprinting from unconventional reservoirs. Professor Karl Ryder and colleagues, from the Materials Centre, will be leading in the areas of battery material technologies and new electrolyte chemistries to address several key technological challenges aligned with battery performance, safety of battery technology and increase of power/energy density by reducing the mass of the components.

Gordon Waddington, ERA CEO, added: “This announcement by the Government allows us to take the next step to accelerate the transformation of the UK energy sector and invest across the whole of the Midlands. ERA is putting the UK on the global map of energy innovation. The amount of private sector funding is a testament to the fact that this is a critical opportunity for growth and productivity in the UK.”

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