Sustainability is defined as "the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Achieving sustainable development is the key global challenge of the 21st Century. It can only be met with the adoption of a range of new sustainable technologies. Sustainable chemical technologies are those involving chemistry as the central science. They span a wide range of areas, many of which make major impacts on society. Key sustainable chemical technologies include: use of renewable resources and biotechnology (e.g., making fuels, chemicals and products from biomass rather than petrochemicals); clean energy conversion and storage (e.g., solar energy, the hydrogen economy and advanced battery technologies); sustainable use of water (e.g., membrane technologies for water purification and upcycling of nutrients in waste water); developing sustainable processes and manufacturing (e.g., making production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics more energy-efficient and less wasteful through developing sustainable supply chains as well as through technological advances); and developing advanced healthcare technologies (e.g., developing new drugs, medical treatments and devices).
To address these needs, we propose a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sustainable Chemical Technologies. The £5.08m requested from the EPSRC will be supplemented by £2.0m from the University and a £4.13m industrial contribution. The CDT will place fundamental concepts of sustainability at the core of a broad spectrum of research and training at the interfaces of chemistry, chemical engineering, biotechnology and manufacturing. This will respond to a national and global need for highly skilled and talented scientists and engineers in the area as well as training tomorrow's leaders as advocates for sustainable innovation.
All students will receive foundation training to supplement their undergraduate knowledge, in addition training in Sustainable Chemical Technologies. Broader training and practice in public engagement and creativity will encourage responsible innovation and attention to ethical, societal, and business aspects of research. They will all conduct high quality and challenging research directed by supervisory teams comprising joint supervisors from at least two of the disciplines of chemistry, chemical engineering, biotechnology and management as well as an industrial and/or international advisor. The broad research themes encompass the areas of: Renewable Resources and Biotechnology, Energy and Water, Processes and Manufacturing and Healthcare Technologies. Participation from key industry partners will address stakeholder needs, and partner institutions in the USA, Germany, Australia, and South Korea will provide world-leading international input, along with exciting opportunities for student placements and internships.
The CDT will utilize dedicated physical and virtual space for the students as well as a supervisory base of more than fifty academics. Building on the success of the current Doctoral Training Centre and evolving to keep pace with the growing importance of biotechnology and manufacturing to UK industry, the centre will provide a dynamic and truly multidisciplinary environment for innovative PhD research and training.