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Loughborough lead £3m drive to improve Low Carbon Vehicle technologies

Loughborough University is set to lead a £3.3m research project aimed at improving the technologies that will propel the next generation of low carbon vehicles.

The four year project, called ELEVATE (ELEctrochemical Vehicle Advanced TEchnology) will look to develop better materials for energy storage devices such as batteries and supercapacitors, along with better diagnostics for fuel cells.

More efficient devices are needed to power low carbon vehicles – from improved economy conventional cars, to hybrids, battery and fuel cell electric vehicles – to help the government meet its 2050 target for reducing CO2.

The team of academics and researchers also aims to come up with a way of allowing the mass charging of electric vehicles without crashing the national grid.

The venture will be led by Loughborough University’s Professor Rob Thring with support from four other universities – Warwick, Oxford, Southampton and UCL.

It will draw on the expertise in the departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials and Manufacturing, and also involve eight leading UK companies, including Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson Matthey and Intelligent Energy, a company founded on Loughborough University research.

Loughborough’s principal role will be to prove that the new electrochemical energy storage devices work in an existing hybrid car, which will be made available for test drives by leaders of industry, government and celebrities. They will also feed the data back to their partners and UK industry.

Professor Thring, Chair in Fuel Cell Engineering in the School of AACME, said he was delighted to have won the grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme.

He said: “From a personal point of view I’m ecstatic. But more than that, it demonstrates that the British Government ‘gets it’ with regard to the future of low carbon vehicle research, development and manufacturing in the UK.

“Low carbon vehicles are an essential part of the UK’s plan to meet its 2050 CO2 objectives, and a part of the plan to cut petroleum usage.

“The way ahead involves not just setting long term CO2 targets, such as 30 grams per kilometre of CO2 by 2050, but also engineering a trajectory to get from where we are now (130 grams per kilometre) to that point.

“That includes essential research like that proposed in the ELEVATE project.”

ELEVATE is one of two new research projects designed to drive forward low carbon vehicles technologies being funded by EPSRC to the tune of £6 million.

The second is called ‘Ultra Efficient Engines and Fuels’ and is led by Dr Robert Morgan at the University of Brighton.

It will investigate how to improve the operational efficiency of internal combustion engines by as much as one third, and how new fuels performance can be used in future engines to bring emissions close to zero.

It will involve academics from the departments of Computing, Engineering & Maths, Engineering & Design, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering. Industrial partners include Delphi Diesel Systems Ltd, Jaguar Land Rover, BP British Petroleum, Ricardo UK.

The announcement was made today by Greg Clark, the Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, as the annual Low Carbon Vehicle Event – LCV Cenex 2014 – opened at the Millbrook Proving Ground near Bedford.

Mr Clark said: “Forging strong business and academic relationships is vital to reinforcing the UK’s reputation as a global leader in research and innovation.

“Funding these new projects involving eight universities is a clear example of this in practice, while taking us a step closer to producing low carbon vehicles on a mass scale.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “The UK’s research base and its universities are a fantastic source of new ideas and refinements from which industry can draw to grow and innovate.

“Low carbon vehicles are, without doubt, an inevitable and very necessary next step for the automotive industries. The leading research that EPSRC supports will help to make the mass use and production of these vehicles a reality more quickly.”

ELEVATE (ELEctrochemical Vehicle Advanced Technology)

  • Loughborough University (Professor Rob Thring, Professor Stephen Fletcher).
  • University of Warwick (Professor Paul Anthony Jennings, Dr James Marco, Dr Chee Tong John Low, Dr Rohit Bhagat.
  • University of Southampton (Professor Andrew Cruden, Dr Carlos Ponce de León Albarrán).
  • University College London (Professor Jawwad Darr, Dr Daniel Brett).
  • University of Oxford (Professor P Bruce, Professor Patrick Grant).

Ultra Efficient Engines and Fuels

  • University of Brighton (Dr Robert Morgan, Professor Morgan Heikal, Dr Cyril Crua).
  • Brunel University (Professor Hua Zhao, Dr Alasdair Cairns, Dr Jun Xia, Dr Apostolos Pesiridis).
  • University of Oxford (Dr Martin Davy, Professor C Stone, Professor Paul Ewart).
  • University College London (Dr Pavlos Aleiferis, Professor Nicos Ladommatos, Dr Paul Hellier).

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme led by EPSRC aims to position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through world-class research and training. The Energy programme is investing more than £625 million in research and skills to pioneer a low carbon future. This builds on an investment of £839 million over the past eight years.

The Energy Programme brings together the work of EPSRC and that of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

About Loughborough University
Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England’s Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen’s Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

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