From improving the water quality of our rivers and transforming food production, to decarbonising industry and reducing the carbon footprint of drug development, Institute for Sustainability members are working to be part of the solution. Since the official launch of the Institute of Sustainability in January 2023, our members have secured more than £14M in research grants to develop technologies and processes designed to address some of today's most pressing sustainability challenges.

Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub

  • Led by University of Bath
  • Funded by EPSRC
  • Partners: University of Birmingham, University of Aberystwyth, University College London, Royal Agricultural University and a range of industrial partners
  • Institute members: Professor Marianne Ellis (PI), Professor Davide Mattia, Professor Marcelle McManus, Professor Linda Newnes
  • £12M awarded

The Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub will run for seven years and aims to transform food production, transitioning to an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable model in which novel manufacturing systems complement traditional food production. This could, for instance, drastically reduce carbon emissions and land use compared with traditional meat manufacture.

The project will explore the benefits that could arise from developing cell-level processes enabling production of foodstuffs and co-products through a system akin to brewing, which could include lower carbon emissions, less pressure on land use, reduced water consumption and improved animal welfare.

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Creating a carbon framework for a decarbonised circular economy

  • Led by University of Bath
  • Funded by IDRIC
  • Partners: Universities of Birmingham and Warwick and Tata Steel, Energy Systems Catapult and the South Wales Industrial Cluster.
  • Institute members: Professor Marcelle McManus (PI)
  • £455k awarded to Bath

Accurate and transparent carbon accounting is vital for decarbonisation. Intuitively, carbon accounting sounds simple. However, numerous methods for carbon accounting exist –they vary in terms of complexity and methodologies, and are a mix of compliance and voluntary-based carbon reporting mechanisms.

In a complex supply chain, if every part of the system uses a different accounting tool, determining the carbon impact of something is immediately more difficult both up and downstream. Where one company uses another’s “waste” to make a product –who gets the carbon credit? As we move towards a circular economy where carbon is captured in materials over several life cycles, understanding and mapping this impact to the global environment, as well as to local business and industry, is critical.

This project is working with industry to create a pathway to a more unified approach to carbon accounting that will work for clusters and for supply chains in a more circular economy.

EPoMM – EPSRC Network for Engineering Porous Materials at Multiple Scales

  • Led by University of Bath
  • Funded by EPSRC
  • Partners: Hiden Isochema Ltd, Poro Technologies Ltd, Silent Sensors
  • Institute members: Professor Chris Bowen (PI), Dr Alexander O’Malley
  • £262k awarded to Bath

The research area of porous materials is extremely diverse, including inorganic materials, organic polymers, synthetic frameworks, biological tissues and composite systems. The variety of applications is equally wide ranging, including renewable energy, separation processes, carbon capture, catalysis, water purification, electronic materials and medicine. A single institution cannot cover the full range of expertise, facilities and applications needed to explore this research area.

Therefore, the EPSRC Network in Engineering Porous Materials at Multiple Scales (EPoMM) aims to foster multiscale and applications-led collaboration between scientists and engineers that spans the entire engineering and physical sciences portfolio. These collaborations will inspire new research directions and new applications to achieve globally significant outcomes with academic, commercial and societal benefits.

The vision of the EPoMM is to make the UK an internationally recognised beacon for multiscale porous materials research, where new collaborations are formed, new research directions are identified, expert advice can be sought, and innovations are commercialised.

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New Photocatalytic C-C Bond-Forming Reactivity of Unprotected Primary Amines

  • Led by University of Bath
  • Funded by EPSRC
  • Partners: AstraZeneca, Enamine Ltd, Biotools Inc.
  • Institute Members: Alex Cresswell (PI)
  • £481k awarded to Bath

Seven of the top 20 reactions in medicinal chemistry feature organic molecules called amines, which also feature in over 80% of marketed drugs.

This project will develop new, scalable methods to produce complex amines that will help reduce the environmental footprint of discovering and manufacturing new pharmaceuticals. In this vein, the research team recently showcased this new chemistry in the shortest-ever synthesis of a blockbuster MS drug called Fingolimod.

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NOISES: Nitrous Oxide In-Situ Environmental Sensors

  • Led by University of Bath
  • Funded by BBSRC
  • Partners: National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) (Southampton)
  • Institute members: Dr Simon Lewis (PI)
  • £67k awarded to Bath (£179k total)

Nitrous oxide is a critical greenhouse gas and a potent ozone-depleting agent. Knowing where and when it’s produced and what becomes of it is critical for climate change science, but currently there is no chemical strategy to measure nitrous oxide in the oceans.

To solve this, this project proposes creating a custom-designed molecule that chemically reacts with nitrous oxide, resulting in a detectable colour change. This will be the first step towards developing a sensor that can potentially be deployed in the sea or on unmanned robots, to measure nitrous oxide in areas such as the deep sea or polar oceans.

PAthways of Chemicals Into Freshwaters and their ecological ImpaCts (PACIFIC)

  • Led by UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • Funded by NERC
  • Co-investigating institutions: University of Bath, Environment Agency, University of Oxford
  • Institute members: Professor Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern (Bath lead)
  • £490k awarded to Bath

PACIFIC aims to understand the ecological impacts of man-made chemicals in freshwater ecosystems, especially on freshwater microbes and the functions they perform.

The project will identify the chemical groups and exposure thresholds that modify microbial communities, and then create spatially and temporally up-scaled models to determine chemical threats to freshwater microbes and the food-webs they support across catchments. This will enable the development of tools to better manage the risks of chemical pollution for freshwater ecosystems.

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PHA from biologically produced VFAs

  • Led by University of South Wales
  • Funded by IDRIC
  • Partners: University of Bath, Imperial College London, Tata Steel, Welsh Water and Unilever.
  • Institute members: Professor Marcelle McManus (Bath lead)
  • £138k awarded to Bath

PHAs are a naturally occurring class of biopolymer that can be used to make biodegradable plastics. This project will develop biological routes to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) using bioderived volatile fatty acids (VFAs) as feedstock. The research will focus on a method of production that can be deployed at full scale in a cost effective manner.

With life cycle assessment embedded into the process, this project will develop a sustainable and flexible value chain, decarbonising industry and displacing further carbon emissions from plastics manufacture.

Quantifying the combined nutrient enrichment, pathogenic, and ecotoxicological impacts of livestock farming on UK rivers (QUANTUM)

  • Led by University of Bristol
  • Funded by NERC
  • Co-investigating institutions: University of Bath, Bangor University, Lancaster University, University of Exeter
  • Institute members: Professor Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern (Bath lead)
  • £340k awarded to Bath

QUANTUM will focus on understanding livestock farming as a key driver of changing river water quality in the livestock-dominated catchments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and throughout the North and West of England. This new knowledge will help to create models that predict how UK freshwater quality is affected in the presence of these multiple stressors, and how it is likely to change in the future in response to climate change and mitigation efforts.

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