UK announces £95m for ‘super-materials’ research and development

The Henry Royce Institute at the University of Manchester will use the funding to boost its research in advanced materials critical to sectors including energy and transport

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The UK Government has announced £95 million of funding to support research and development of “super-materials” of the future.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps visited the Henry Royce Institute at the University of Manchester, which will use the funding to develop advanced materials that are critical to sectors including energy, health, transport, electronics and utilities.

Advanced materials, including biomaterials, smart materials and nano-engineered materials, possess unique properties enabling superior performance to their traditional counterparts and are vital in a wide range of industries.

Projects backed by government funding have included turning waste materials into sustainable plastics, new materials to enable quantum technologies and helping advance knowledge of how Zirconium alloy insulation can improve the safety and cost-efficiency of highly radioactive fuel used in nuclear reactors as well as reducing their carbon emissions.

In addition, another project is believed to be revolutionising the way the UK’s 35,000 tonnes of annually imported titanium, 90% of which is turned into waste during manufacturing, can be reused to create lightweight alloys used for more efficient vehicles, reducing waste and emissions.

The Institute – formed in 2014 with a £235 million of government investment through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – works across the UK’s regions with academic and industry partners including Johnson Matthey, Rolls-Royce, Siemens and Tata Steel.

The latest funding will advance the Institute’s work to support early-stage research in these materials, access to research facilities and opportunities for collaboration between researchers and businesses.

Mr Shapps said: “R&D investment is a critical way to turbocharge Britain’s growth. Growing an economy fit for the future means harnessing the full potential of advanced materials, making science fiction a reality by supporting projects from regenerative medicine to robots developing new recycling capabilities, right across the country – including here in the heart of Manchester.

“Today’s £95 million investment will do just that, bringing together the brightest minds across our businesses and institutions to help future-proof sectors from healthcare to nuclear energy.”