New US$27.8m energy research facility opens at WMG, University of Warwick

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Two research centers for sustainable electrical and thermal energy technologies, totaling £22m (US$27.8m), have opened at WMG, University of Warwick. The funding from government via the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) will see the UK government, industry and higher education work together to shape the future of the UK’s energy landscape.

The ERA is a £60m (US$75.8m) project funded by Innovate UK focused on the research and development of the next generation of energy and low-carbon technologies. It consists of eight universities.

Research work at WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre will cover battery development from materials and electrochemistry to application integration and recycling/reuse.

The £20m (US$25.2m) ERA investment has seen the installation of a dry room for cell assembly, equipment for characterization work at the cell, module and pack levels, charging infrastructure and second-life evaluation facilities.

The School of Engineering’s Sustainable Thermal Energy Technologies group develops low-carbon heating and cooling technologies. A £2m (US$2.5m) investment from the ERA has enabled extension of the thermal properties lab into five newly-refurbished test cells to accommodate additional equipment for analyzing thermal properties of materials with new control/data logging facilities.

Prof. Pam Thomas, pro-vice chancellor for research at the University of Warwick, commented, “The University of Warwick continues to produce innovative research in battery development and thermal energy. This funding means we can help research ways to tackle global challenges in areas such as energy and sustainability to help climate change for the UK and the world’s future.”

Prof. Martin Freer, director of the ERA, said, “Over the coming years we are going to see a step change in the motor industry from the combustion engine to battery-powered vehicles. With this investment from ERA and Innovate UK, the Midlands will continue to take the lead in the research, development and commercialization of new battery technologies.

“Our investment in the thermal labs here at Warwick is also significant, as the new facilities will enable researchers to work together with other ERA universities to develop innovative and efficient low carbon heating and cooling technologies.”

Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, added, “This world-leading research facility will further cement the West Midlands’ position at the cutting edge of innovation in technology and sustainability.

“The region is already at the forefront of the development of electric vehicle efficiency, and now the ERA’s funding will enable us to make better use of electrification to reduce emissions and improve transport, making a real difference to the lives of people living and working in the West Midlands.”

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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