Funding to train next generation of chemists to take the East Midlands towards net zero

12 Mar 2024

Tuesday, 12 March 2024

Funding to train next generation of Chemists to take the East Midlands towards net zero

The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University have been awarded funding for a centre that will train chemists of the future to find new ways to decarbonise manufacturing sectors, and help the East Midlands achieve its net zero target.

The announcement, made today by Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan is the UK’s biggest-ever investment in engineering and physical sciences doctoral skills, totalling more than £1 billion. 

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Resilient Chemistry (Feedstock to Function) in Nottingham has received £12m in collaborative investment and is one of 65 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) that will support leading research in areas of national importance.

Over 50 postgraduate students will be trained as part of the CDT across the two Nottingham university campuses who will benefit from world-class expertise and facilities. The research they will undertake aims to drive down the environmental impact of chemical manufacturing processes which so many sectors and products rely on, from pharmaceuticals and fragrances to adhesives and lubricants, and create sustainable, circular new processes.

The Resilient Chemistry CDT forms part of the shared commitments under the Universities for Nottingham Civic Agreement, a collaboration between Nottingham’s two world-class universities and eight key anchor institutions; the agreement sets out partners’ commitments to working across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire for the benefit of the local community, its people and place.

The CDT supports the Universities for Nottingham environmental sustainability mission that aims to develop innovative ways to tackle the barriers to carbon neutrality and strive for a cleaner, more productive, and inclusive local economy. Also, to translate zero-carbon research into practice and to undertake new research to enhance the competitiveness of the area and contribute towards the achievement of carbon neutrality.

Professor Tom Rodden, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the university and testament to the excellent quality of our research and strength of our partnership with Nottingham Trent University.

This CDT will bring together experts from industry and academia across the globe who will train the next generation of chemistry leaders to deliver world-leading research into sustainable, scalable solutions that are urgently needed to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing processes and support Nottingham’s ambition to be the UK’s first zero carbon city by 2028.”

Richard Emes Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Nottingham Trent University said, “The Resilient Chemistry CDT is another excellent example of collaboration between Nottingham’s universities. I look forward to the fantastic research undertaken whilst training a generation of chemists in the sustainability of chemical manufacturing methods at Nottingham Trent University.”

The University of Nottingham is also involved in a further four new centres focusing on engineering and pharmacy led by other institutions, enabling Nottingham’s expertise to be shared with more than 50 students who will have access to an outstanding research environment and unrivalled opportunities.

Professor Charlotte Deane, Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, 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.”

Students at the Resilient Chemistry CDT will also have the opportunity to gain global experience with secondment and research opportunities with a range of institutions, spanning the Americas, Europe and East Asia including; the University of Dublin, University of Colorado and Yale.

A number of industry partners will also provide vital commercial experience to allow the students to translate their research to real-world applications.

Professor Julie Beth Zimmerman, Vice Provost: Planetary Solutions at Yale University commented:

“We are excited to join this transatlantic collaboration which will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to deliver resilient planetary solutions to the grand challenges of society.  The application of Green Chemistry solutions will provide better routes to sustainable manufacturing while achieving our commitments towards netzero.”