Three industrial collaborations secure funding as part of latest £149m EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships

One of (Image by Studio_East)
One of (Image by Studio_East)

Research projects investigating hydrogen-based aviation fuels, flexible electronics and injectable medicines receive major funding

Three University of Bath projects that will see researchers work with industrial partners to solve business challenges focused on decarbonisation, healthcare and digitalisation, have received major funding.

The projects, which when combined are worth more than £19 million, have been funded in the latest round of Prosperity Partnerships announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) today (Monday 22 May 2023).

They focus on decarbonising aviation fuel by using hydrogen-based fuels, creating next-generation injectable medicines, and developing future electronics compatible with flexible materials.

The five-year projects are three of 19 new Prosperity Partnerships being announced today.

Worth a total of £149 million, the partnerships are funded by EPSRC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC), with £88 million in matched funding coming from academia and industry.

ZENITH - zero-emission aircraft

ZENITH (Zero Emission: The Next generation of Integrated Technologies for Hydrogen) will see Bath researchers partner with GKN Aerospace , which supplies over 90 per cent of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers, to position the UK as a leader in the field in emerging zero emission aircraft.

ZENITH will lead to new fundamental knowledge and develop solutions in hydrogen energy storage and structures technologies, with the aim of making impact in the UK-s aerospace industries and contributing to the UK-s 2050 Net Zero target.

Richard Butler, Professor of Aerospace Composites, from Bath’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, will lead the partnership, which will work on four Research Challenge areas - Liquid Hydrogen Storage, Solid State Storage, Optimised Performance and Sustainable Manufacture.

Supervisors will be drawn from a team of industrial specialists and 15 Bath academics, from the Institute for Sustainability , as well as the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Mathematical Sciences.

Russ Dunn, Chief Technology Officer at GKN Aerospace, says: -GKN Aerospace aims to continually innovate to accelerate our industry’s transition to net zero.

-Our ability to innovate and adapt relies upon fundamental breakthroughs in materials science, engineering and manufacturing. ZENITH will help us make some of these breakthroughs, to create sustainable prosperity in aerospace.-

Prof Richard Butler adds: -ZENITH will tackle fundamental challenges associated with the material science and structural integrity of hydrogen-fuelled aircraft, and broaden our strategic relationship with GKN by engaging in cutting-edge research across the University.-

Injectable medicines

The project Transforming the future use of injectable medicines outside the hospital: Increasing capacity in the NHS, will build upon a longstanding and successful collaboration between researchers at Bath and Pharmaxo Scientific.

Led by Dr Andrew Watts, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences, the project will develop automated manufacture methods for high volume production of high variability injectable medicines, with the aim of increasing capacity within the NHS.

Dr Watts says: -Our aim is to create a platform that will transform the future use of injectable medicines in the UK and globally. -We envisage, ultimately, a range of optimised injectable medicines suited to the setting in which they are administered, whether in the community or a hospital, manufactured through an automated process. This dramatically reduces the demand placed on healthcare resource required to administer them in whatever setting is appropriate.-

Flexible electronics

Partnering with Pragmatic Semiconductor , as well as the Universities of Liverpool and Cambridge, the Innovative Material, Processes and Devices for Low Power Flexible Electronics: Creating a Sustainable Internet of Everything project aims to deliver economic growth and new UK jobs by creating new semiconductor technologies and applications.

Lead investigator of the project, Dr Andrew Johnson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry, says: -High-performance flexible electronics are set to revolutionise society by providing cost-effective routes to sustainable, low-power electronics, compatible with plastics, textile and paper substrates.

-Our partnership harnesses world-leading expertise in design, development and fabrication of the next generation of electronics in the UK, with a concerted and cohesive research program designed to provide a sustainable -off-the-shelf- thin-film semiconductor technology.

-This will create technologies that can be readily integrated into the production line of flexible electronics, enabling the creation of a sustainable Internet of Everything that will deliver economic growth and create jobs across the UK.-

Dr Andrew Bourne, Director of Partnerships at EPSRC said: -Prosperity Partnerships demonstrate how business and academia can come together to co-create and co-deliver research and innovations that address industry-driven challenges and deliver economic and societal impact.

-These new projects showcase the breadth of research and innovation in the UK, covering a wider range of sectors, and support the UK-s ambitions to be a science superpower and an innovation nation.-

The EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships were developed with the support of Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath.