New UK group aims to lead sustainable manufacturing

New UK group aims to lead sustainable manufacturing

10 February, 2022

The University of Birmingham and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) have launched a research group with the aim of decarbonising manufacturing. The venture will bring together r&d and product development lifecycle experts from both organisations, together with industrial partners, to establish a “world-leading” research group that will lead a sustainable manufacturing revolution.

The group will include a new Chair in Sustainable Manufacturing, as well as five manufacturing research fellows. Researchers in the group will work across both organisations, as well as with industrial partners, to lead research in manufacturing engineering. Their work will focus on sustainable and decarbonising processes including:

• intelligent manufacturing;

• lifecycle analysis;

• data-driven predictive manufacturing;

• digital twins for manufacturing;

• product control and management;

• industrial photonics; and

• cyber-physical embedded systems and Industrial Internet of Things.

Signing up for a sustainable future. Front row: Clive Hickman (CEO, MTC); Professor Stephen Jarvis (head of the University of Birmingham’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences). Back row: Heather Clarke (non-executive director, MTC); Professor Clive Roberts (head of University of Birmingham’s School of Engineering); and Professor Karl Dearn (Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Birmingham).

“The decarbonisation of manufacturing is a significant global energy challenge and one which we will need to address if we are to meet our 2050 net-zero goals,” explains Professor Stephen Jarvis, head of the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. “The opportunities and potential impact of this partnership are immense and it is fitting that this initiative launches in the Midlands, a region recognised worldwide for its industrial heritage.”

The new group will be based at the University of Birmingham’s £85m engineering complex, which includes the new School of Engineering, a centre for rail research and education, and the National Buried Infrastructure Facility.

“As an organisation, the MTC is prioritising support for sustainable manufacturing as a key factor in the delivery of net-zero,” says the Centre’s CEO, Dr Clive Hickman. “We are actively helping the development of the next generation of green manufacturing technologies which will deliver clean growth. As an example to industry, we are targeting our own operations to ensure sustainability in everything we do in our own operations or with our supply chain.

“This is a win-win for the UK,” he adds. “Not only does it help decarbonise manufacturing activities; it also has the potential to provide many thousands of jobs. In this country we have a rich advanced manufacturing resource and there’s no reason why the UK cannot take the lead in low-carbon and sustainable manufacturing.

“Manufacturing businesses themselves can benefit enormously, both directly and indirectly,” Hickman suggests, “either by producing green components like fuel cells or electrolysers for hydrogen, or indirectly by having clean fuels for boilers and furnaces. The overall impact on society of a low-carbon and sustainable manufacturing sector is considerable.”

The new collaboration builds on a well-established partnership between the University of Birmingham’s and the MTC in manufacturing technology and materials, and signals the intent of both institutions to collaborate on world-leading manufacturing initiatives.

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