Production and resources are essential to sustainability. Natural, human, economic and engineered resources must be sustained and protected to benefit present and future generations.
Research strengths at Newcastle University that allow it to make an internationally leading contribution to meeting this challenge:
- earth systems engineering
- biological and biodiversity modelling and analysis
- marine, terrestrial and socio-economic planning
- low-carbon energy production
- manufacturing and process engineering
- digital technology
Why are production and resources important to sustainability?
The built environment consumes three million tonnes of raw materials annually. Resource-inefficient methods in industry combined with over exploitation of resources has led to the depletion of the natural resource base humans and other species depend on.
How can we make them sustainable?
There are many opportunities for finding sustainable solutions to improving production efficiency and conserving resources including:
- Improving manufacturing and resource recovery
- Changing attitudes and behaviours to reduce dependence on unsustainable production methods
- Expanding upon knowledge of ‘whole systems’
- Designing policies that bring about sustainable outcomes by valuing ecosystem services
Researchers at Newcastle University are developing methods to prioritise species conservation for policymakers and manage pressures placed on environmental systems, such as river catchments. They are improving industrial processes to make them more sustainable and researching how digital technologies can deliver major social benefits to disadvantaged communities.
Examples of research in Production & Resources:
River catchments and soil
Rivers and streams lie at the heart of the landscape. Researchers are working with farmers and other stakeholders to reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture and to mitigate floods through rural land management. They are also assessing the effects of soil compaction on agriculture and biodiversity.
Prioritising species conservation
A method has been developed by researchers for prioritising global species conservation (MAPISCo). It allows stakeholders to identify species conservation priorities effectively linking science and policy in governing biodiversity.
Using digital technology to treat poor health and social problems
Digital technologies are ubiquitous in society but have the potential to significantly improve both people’s health and quality of life. Researchers are investigating how they can increase accessibility, support people’s relationships with family and their community, and manage chronic illness.
Improving marine energy
Researchers are tackling major challenges in reducing the cost of marine renewable energy. They have focused on ways to reduce the cost and increase the capacity of devices to convert marine energy, making major contributions to improving materials involved. Previous research also includes converting CO2 to organic compounds using low temperature electrolyser.
Modelling the supply chain of materials for low carbon energy
Achieving carbon reduction targets involves moving increasingly away from fossil fuel based generation of electricity. This means increasing dependency on other materials needed for building the infrastructure of a low-carbon energy supply. Researchers have modelled the supply chain of materials of wind energy generation and electric vehicles for industry and government.