We are a dynamic and collegiate research community delivering cutting-edge research with an interdisciplinary approach that crosses traditional boundaries between science and engineering.
Our world-leading institution brings together a breadth and depth of expertise in Sustainable Chemical Technologies and Sustainable Systems.
Sustainable Chemical Technologies
We work across traditional disciplinary boundaries between science and engineering to develop novel sustainable technologies with chemistry at its core. We design molecules, materials and manufacturing processes to enable a circular economy and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Underpinned by state-of-the-art facilities, we:
- use renewable resources and biotechnology to make chemicals, fuels and materials from biomass rather than petrochemicals
- investigate clean energy conversion and storage to enable resource-efficient, low-carbon industries
- develop (bio)chemical processes to make the manufacturing of chemicals more energy-efficient and less wasteful
- valorise waste from industrial, agricultural and municipal sources and study their impact on the environment
- design high-performance materials with embedded recyclability or degradability for their end of life
Innovation in these areas is key to breaking from the current linear model in which goods are manufactured using fossil feedstocks, sold, used, and then discarded. New sustainable chemical technologies are necessary to move to a more circular model and achieve a net-zero carbon society.
Keywords: resource efficiency, renewable feedstocks, catalysis, biotechnology, bio-derived materials, recyclability, degradability, clean energy, net zero.
This theme takes a whole-systems perspective to measuring and embedding sustainability in decision-making. In particular, we use methods from industrial ecology to understand the full environmental footprint of our products and activities. This allows us to predict what choices will lead to more sustainable outcomes in practice. Understanding the environmental footprint of our activities is essential to avoid “burden shifting”, where one type of environmental impact is reduced but another increased.
- apply our methods to real-world problems to develop sustainable products, through collaboration with partners across the Institute and beyond
- continually improve industrial ecology methods to make them more accessible, robust, and actionable; for example, improving how we deal with uncertainty and building tools for better data visualisation
- use our findings to inform policy, legislation and industrial practice
We work in a variety of sectors including energy, construction, manufacturing and petrochemicals.
Keywords: industrial ecology, life cycle assessment, material flow analysis, techno-economic assessment, carbon footprinting, science-based carbon targets