The University of Strathclyde is to establish a new innovation hub within the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland. This will support the journey to deliver a sustainable net-zero economy by accelerating the development and deployment of technology supporting decarbonisation.

An agreement has been signed with Rolls-Royce which will see Strathclyde develop the new facility within the company’s Inchinnan plant to enable the University to scale-up its wide-ranging collaboration activities with industry partners across sectors such as heat, transport and power electronics.

The new Renfrewshire facility will see Strathclyde locate equipment and capabilities from PNDC, an integrated development, manufacture and test facility that will help to accelerate and de-risk large-scale decarbonisation technologies and products.

Government objectives

With the advent of affordable renewable energy, emissions relating to power generation have significantly decreased since the COP25 Paris Agreement, however they are harder to abate in the heat and transport sectors. In 2020, transport was the largest carbon dioxide emitting sector in the UK, accounting for 30% of CO2 emissions.

The decarbonisation of heat is another particular challenge, with 29 million UK homes which need to be upgraded to low carbon heating systems by 2050.

The facility will be closely aligned with the nearby National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) in supporting the delivery of government objectives embodied within policies such as: the UK’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution; the UK’s and Scottish Government’s Innovation Strategies; the Scottish Government’s world-first hydrogen action plan and hydrogen policy statement; and Scotland’s Draft Energy Strategy which the previous first minister launched earlier this year at PNDC.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said:
University of Strathclyde logo

“This facility will combine a unique set of engineering, technology, development and test capabilities that will help to establish the supply chain and supporting ecosystem for decarbonisation while building upon existing skills and infrastructure in the region.

“It will be a major addition to the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland that brings together our capabilities in electrical systems, power electronics and advanced manufacturing to support new jobs, economic growth and position Scotland and the UK at the forefront of decarbonised transport and heat.”

Gordon Hutchieson, Manufacturing Executive, Rolls-Royce, said:
Rolls-Royce logo

“We are pleased to sign this agreement, ensuring that this part of our site will continue to be an important resource for advanced engineering and the advancement of net zero solutions. We are also committed to the drive to net zero, developing our own UltraFan engine technology demonstrator to further improve gas turbine efficiency, ensuring all of our in-production engines are proven to be compatible with 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel, and leading the way in new propulsion systems such as hydrogen”.

Pictured from L-R:
Lindsay Gardner, Matt Maynard, Dr Nigel Bird, Dr Jacqueline Redmond, Gillian Docherty OBE, Rob Watson, Gordon Hutchieson, Derek Boyd

University of Strathclyde Chief Commercial Officer, Gillian Docherty OBE, and Rob Watson, President, Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace

The site will be equipped to include testing of technology specifically designed to enable the energy transition including the provision of a hydrogen supply that will support the decarbonisation of the aerospace, rail and heavy-duty vehicle markets, and the development of hydrogen as a fuel for domestic heating and industrial energy.

Research leader

Strathclyde is a research leader in energy, operating one of the largest energy research clusters in Europe, and received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2019 in recognition of the excellence of its research in this field.

Its specialisms cover: wind energy technology and its deployment; renewable energy; smart grids and power grid control, protection, operation and management; power electronics, drives and energy conversion; energy policy, economics, markets and standards; high-voltage technologies; and artificial intelligence and data analytics for energy systems.

The new facility will also build on the Power Electronics, Machines and Drives (PEMD) hardware focus in the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC), based at Strathclyde’s Technology & Innovation Centre.

The University also has a roster of spinout companies making valuable contributions to the enhancement of sustainable energy provision and it plays a prominent role in informing energy policy; Professor Sir Jim McDonald sits on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and is also co-chair, with the First Minister of Scotland, of the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board.

PNDC’s Executive Director, Dr Jacqueline Redmond, adds:
PNDC 10th Anniversary logo

“In its 10-year history, PNDC has played a vital role with partners in decarbonising the energy system. Our challenge now is to leverage this integrated systems expertise to lead innovation in the decarbonisation of transport and heat.

“This state-of-the-art facility provides unique capabilities to fast-track next-generation technologies for whole system decarbonisation, providing PNDC with MW propulsion and powertrain test capability, as well as hydrogen and decarbonised heat (thermal network) test infrastructure. By convening partners from industry, government and academia, we aim to cement Scotland’s reputation as a global leader in sustainable innovation.”