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New £11M centre to produce leaders for Net Zero Process Industries

Published on: 12 March 2024

Newcastle University will lead a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) which will deliver a four-year training programme to produce 55 PhD graduates.

Newcastle University will collaborate with the University of York and more than 25 industrial partners to produce 55 PhD graduates with expertise in Process Intensification and Green Chemistry as part of the £11 million “Process Industries: Net Zero” (PINZ) Centre for Doctoral Training.

The new CDT, which is part of the UK’s biggest-ever investment in engineering and physical sciences doctoral skills totaling more than £1 billion, will produce the next generation of internationally renowned researchers who are anticipated to go on to a wide variety of careers, including in industry, academia, and government.

The researchers will help the process industries transition to more sustainable practices: this includes the pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, chemicals, and utilities sectors.

'Our graduates will become architects and leaders'

Matthew Grenby, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation at Newcastle University, said: “The transition to Net Zero is one of the great challenges of our age, and we are delighted that universities like ours will be able to lead the response on the back of this announcement.”

“This CDT is a perfect example of how we can do it, training the next generation of scientists and engineers, and collaborating directly with partners in industry.”

The investment will allow industry partners, such as the North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), Procter & Gamble, SSE, Nestle and Northumbrian Water to benefit from collaborating with North East academics. A key focus for the CDT will be technology transfer from laboratory to industry.

Newcastle University is already world-leading in Process Intensification (PI) and runs one of the largest PI groups in the world, with more than 80 researchers on campus. This collaboration with the world class Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at York will create a formidable partnership in process engineering and chemistry.

Professor Adam Harvey, PI Group Leader, and Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training, at Newcastle University, said: “The CDT will put Newcastle University at the forefront of the drive to Net Zero.

“Two world-leading groups, the Process Intensification Group (Chemical Engineering, Newcastle) and the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (Chemistry, University of York), will collaborate with over 25 industrial partners on more than 55 PhD projects.

“Every project will be co-created with industrial partners to address the challenges they face in their transition to Net Zero.

“Students will receive intensive training throughout their PhDs to become the Net Zero-enabled engineers and chemists that the future process industries need.

“Based on their research and training, our graduates will become architects and leaders in the transition to Net Zero for process industries in the UK.”

Prof Adam Harvey, Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training at Newcastle University.

'The CDTs will train and support more than 4,000 doctoral students'

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK and will create 65 CDTs as part of the total funding.

The CDTs will train and support more than 4,000 doctoral students in areas of national importance including the critical technologies AI, quantum technologies, semiconductors, telecoms and engineering biology.

Professor Charlotte Deane, Executive Chair of the EPSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said: "The Centres for Doctoral Training announced today will help to prepare the next generation of researchers, specialists and industry experts across a wide range of sectors and industries.

“Spanning locations across the UK and a wide range of disciplines, the new centres are a vivid illustration of the UK’s depth of expertise and potential, which will help us to tackle large-scale, complex challenges and benefit society and the economy.

"The high calibre of both the new centres and applicants is a testament to the abundance of research excellence across the UK, and EPSRC’s role as part of UKRI is to invest in this excellence to advance knowledge and deliver a sustainable, resilient and prosperous nation.”

As part of the total EPSRC funding, Newcastle University, alongside Northumbria and Durham University, will be partner institutions with ReNU+ to advance world-leading research on renewable energy technologies to expand their work and include people from under-represented groups and non-traditional educational backgrounds to drive the transition to Net Zero.

ReNU+ will be distinctive from other areas of renewable energy research due to its emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion, and its partnerships with local government, industry and charities.

Newcastle University will also collaborate with Cranfield and Sheffield University to equip 60 students with the skills needed to help create a more water-secure world. WIRe II is a collaboration involving the three universities to give students access to world-leading experimental water facilities.

The Process Industries: Net Zero website has information about doctoral opportunities including how to apply



(Press release adapted with thanks from the EPSRC)


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