Research Projects

IDRIC launched its first wave of over 40 research and innovation projects in 2021. The research projects have been grouped into nine Multidisciplinary Integrated Programmes (MIPs), each addressing a key challenge or pathway for industrial decarbonisation.

  • MIP1: System Planning for net-zero industrial clusters
  • MIP2: Infrastructure for net-zero industrial clusters
  • MIP3: Operating net-zero industrial clusters
  • MIP4: Scale up opportunities at cluster and value chain level
  • MIP5: Energy vectors for industrial decarbonisation
  • MIP6: Accelerating deployment of CCUS for industrial decarbonisation
  • MIP7: Large scale deployment of hydrogen systems for industrial decarbonisation
  • MIP8: Reducing costs and risks of Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) and their integration in industrial clusters
  • MIP9: Integration: Policy, knowledge exchange and skills

A summary of each research project is listed below – click on the project title to read more.

IDRIC uses a whole systems approach, so themes such as hydrogen, CCUS, policy and social aspects are addressed in more than one programme.

To feed into our second wave of research starting soon, please contact us at info@idric.org.

MIP 1 – System Planning for net-zero industrial clusters

This programme addresses key planning questions for the decarbonisation of industrial clusters with the objective of: enabling a deeper understanding of integrated systems; developing a long-term strategic vision underpinned by proven technologies, emerging innovation, and optimised and supportive policy frameworks. Data and skills generated across this program will provide case studies, assessment modelling and validation. ​These will be used to develop governance learning and policy mapping for all clusters and projects, leading to data-rich system planning models to be shared nationally and internationally.

Decarbonising industrial clusters will require a paradigm shift in the supply and utilisation of energy and a switch to alternative energy vectors, e.g. hydrogen, BECCS and increased electrification underpinned by intermittent renewable energy re-balanced with energy storage. These transformations require a deeper understanding of integrated energy systems, a long-term strategic vision and a place-based planning capability. Current energy systems modelling is generally based on simplistic and non-dynamic assumptions which greatly limits their ability to inform decision-making and thus hinders effective decarbonisation. Alternatively, multi-energy-vector engineering models are more robust but have shown limited success in scale-up when applied to large and complex energy systems, like industrial clusters.

This project will develop a “best of both-worlds” planning tool; a simpler solution which accounts for uncertainties and is more scalable for the analysis of multi-vector energy flows. The model will be initiated using real-world data from the Teesside Cluster but built into a flexible response surface methodology (RSM) framework as a case-study. The complexity will be made appropriate by populating the RSMs with more physical, multi-dimensional representations of cluster energy system components. The tool will be used to explore high-level planning scenarios and help support local efforts for decarbonising all the industrial clusters.

Principal Investigator:  Janie Ling Chin, Durham University

Project Collaborators: Teesside University, Tees Valley Combined Authority, NEPIC, Northern Gas Network, Sembcorp, Northern Powergrid

This project will deliver a reservoir model of a key UK CO2 storage complex: the Bunter Sandstone of the Southern North Sea. This saline aquifer is the primary storage unit targeted by two ongoing CCUS feasibility studies (OGCI’s Net Zero Teesside and Equinor’s Humber Industrial Decarbonisation Deployment projects) and as such has a high likelihood of forming the storage reservoir for one of the UK’s first CCUS operations. The reservoir model will provide a testbed for optimizing different CCUS operations targeting the aquifer, leading to a reduction in cost and risk to operators. Important geological information will be delivered to a wide range of industrial and academic research projects to further the collective understanding of this important storage reservoir. The Bunter Sandstone is already the focus of several academic studies, but interest in the aquifer system is expected to grow as the industrial feasibility studies progress. The detailed geological framework developed as part of this project will enable researchers to investigate increasingly complex physical and chemical interactions and processes critical to the operation of these CCUS projects.

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Pearce, British Geological Survey

This project focuses on the use of LCA to identify and reduce carbon impact, and maximise potential for carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and providing an initial framework to enable the assessment of current and emerging technologies. To create and evaluate the framework we will partner with two other IDRIC projects (based in the South Wales Cluster): VFA factory and Bio-Balance for the test cases as each propose differing ways to meet net zero. Partnering will achieve value for money and enable life cycle system analysis of both projects. From the outset, our insights will aid decisions made within those systems in order to optimise GHG reduction for the VFA factory and bio-balance. In parallel, we will begin to build case studies of nascent decarbonisation technologies and systems, from which we can learn more widely. Synergies and differences in the two case study projects will enable creative dynamic life cycle modelling, providing clear indicators of how much carbon can be stored in bio-based materials, crops and soils. Pulling on the information from these case study systems we will begin to build a framework for life cycle assessment and optimisation of industrial decarbonisation in bio-based systems. This will be further developed in collaboration with other IDRIC partners. 

Principal Investigator: Marcelle C McManus, University of Bath 

This project will examine both the policy mixes and governance dynamics of industrial decarbonisation in the UK. It will pursue three integrated outputs:  

  • A series of reviews looking at the sociotechnical policy aspects of industrial decarbonisation, especially the difficulties of, and types of policy instruments for, iron and steel, cement, chemicals, oil refining, food and drinks, pulp and paper, glass, and ceramics;  
  • Producing an institutional and policy mix mapping for the six geographic UK clusters, and assessing how these meet various criteria, including consistency, coherence and credibility;  
  • Examining the governance dilemmas of large-scale CCUS projects through the lens of project management and megaprojects, applied to five of the six clusters.  

Principal Investigator: Benjamin Sovacool, University of Sussex 

Project Collaborators: University of Manchester, Queen’s Belfast

Globalisation has brought new uncertainties and insecurities that threaten citizens’ resilience, characterised by social scientists as ‘World Risk Society’. This is the social context – the ‘new normal of risk’ – within which industrial decarbonisation will have to be delivered, a situation magnified because most of the Industrial Clusters are in regions of the UK with pockets of severe social deprivation alongside the existing industry. Currently, there is no research on the social implications of regional industrial system decarbonisation framed in terms of these wider currents of risk society. The project will explore how such global uncertainties produce resistances to (or embrace of) key industrial decarbonisation pathways, as grounded in the affective intensities arising from people’s aspirations to live secure and sustainable lives alongside industrial change. The project will investigate how these resistances to change impact the trade-offs to be made between industrial decarbonisation, the construction of resilient local communities, and building a secure UK industrial-base.

Principal Investigators: Prof Nick Pidgeon (PI) and Prof Karen Henwood (Co-I), Cardiff University

Project Collaborators: SWIC, Costain, Tata Steele, WWU, WPD, National Grid, Industry Wales, NRW, WG, BEIS, UK Climate Committee, UKERC, Neath Port Talbot Council, Bridgend Council, Cardiff City Council, Port of Milford Haven (Commercial Division), UKRI GGR-ERW Hub and Demonstrator Programme

MIP 2 – Infrastructure for net-zero industrial clusters

The identification of systems infrastructure, assets and network design options that work at cluster level represents a formidable challenge. We need to address challenges relating to the cost of new or modified infrastructure. This must be underpinned by a place-based planning capability that takes into consideration the expense of social and environmental justice for communities and workers.  Linking optimisation methods and data generated through this programme, we will accelerate the ability to compare and validate optimal source, vector and storage options.

This project will develop an open source techno-economic and environmental portfolio assessment toolkit to design low carbon infrastructure for industrial clusters. It will address two important cluster challenges:  

  • How to share the cost of new or modified infrastructure (e.g. CCS, hydrogen production and distribution, increased electrification);  
  • Identify and rate opportunities for resource cascading (e.g. heat integration across industries).  

Building on our experience of process and system level modelling, as well as life cycle analysis, will identify systems infrastructure, asset and network design options that work at cluster level. Issues such as the right balance of electricity, CCS, hydrogen and heat cascading for a particular cluster will be explored, quantifying the solutions with a range of energetic, economic and environmental metrics. The work will comprise four key academic tasks:  

  • Framework development;  
  • Model and tool development; 
  • Cluster case studies analysis and model refinement;  
  • Model finalisation.  

 Industrially, the objective is to engage at least two clusters in case studies and results evaluation and use the toolkit to support them in their roadmap development. Technology developers will be able to use the toolkit to gain insights into the potential roles for their technologies for industrial decarbonisation

Principal Investigator: Nilay Shah, Imperial College

Project Collaborators: Heriot-Watt University

This project will optimise approaches for the movement by ships of CO2 from clusters /sources without nearby CO2 geo-storage to other UK clusters with suitable storage capacity. We will consider the specific CO2  waste streams from different sources (with a range of purities and phases) within regions, production volumes, port capabilities and attributes, and the design of appropriate port-side CO2 transit infrastructure. We will take a deliberately UK-centric approach investigating specific UK sources, ports and shipping routes (cf. Northern Lights, ALIGN). We will work closely with UK regulators to design seamless enabling regulations from source to geo-storage. The goals of this project are:

  • Optimisation of effective methodology and development of supporting Regulation of CO2 transport by Ships and Transit Storage of CO2 in Ports;
  • Development of regulatory frameworks and seamless connections between onshore and offshore regulators;
  • Measure and test wider public acceptance of CO2 transport, port storage, and shipping of CO2   (and other cryogenic potential future fuels (H2, NH3).

Our optimisation of CO2 shipping will include investigations of:

  • Ship size, vessel availability, retrofit/new build, port capabilities, cargo size, storage and supply and transfer rates;
  • Whole-chain assessment of technical /economic /energy costs of CO2-phase changes from capture to geostorage;
  • Enabling regulations for UK and international best practice to establish nascent industry and new commodity trade.

Principal Investigator: Prof Damon A.H. Teagle, University of Southampton

Project Collaborators: Progressive Energy, Maritime and Coastguard Agency School of Communication Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Shell Shipping and Trading, Lloyds Register

Design of new infrastructure and systems to provide low-C fuels and heat to industry, away from the main clusters

Industry emissions away from the six clusters account for c. 50 MtCO2, just over half of all emissions from the sector. In industry, 47% (8.5 Mtoe) of energy demand is met by natural gas, predominantly for high and low temperature processes and drying/separation, so the associated emissions will not be directly affected by electricity decarbonisation. To meet net-zero commitments these emissions, dispersed across the UK, need to be addressed. The appropriate supply-side option will be dependent on the use case and local context, but this data is scarce. The objective of the project is to inform the design of new technologies, infrastructure and systems to provide low-C energy (as gas, heat or electricity) to industry, enabled by the six main clusters, and drive large-scale decarbonisation. This includes low-C gas and heat either produced at clusters and distributed to other locations, through pipelines/transport, or locally. We will co-develop a framework with industry partners to capture and analyse data, assess potential options and develop implementation pathways, which will be applied at a national scale.

Principal Investigator: Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, University of Birmingham

Project Collaborators: University of South Wales, Black Country Consortium, CR Plus, Tyseley Energy Park – Birmingham

Industrial strategy and climate policy goals for decarbonisation must not come at the expense of social and environmental justice for communities and workers. Just transition approaches are required to ensure the costs and benefits of industrial decarbonisation are distributed fairly. This project aims to enhance both justice outcomes and procedures in industrial transitions via mixed-methods, engaged research. First the project will undertake a review of the just transitions literature and concepts. Questionnaire surveys of residents within the cluster areas of interest (Grangemouth, Merseyside and South Wales) will identify key concerns and priorities for the project, including data on political attitudes, democratic values and populist views. The research team will develop company and community case studies in each cluster interested in implementing a just transition. Survey data will inform qualitative methods such as semi-structured interviews, workshops and focus groups to ensure participation from vulnerable groups, including entry- and mid-level workers and residents and to engage communities on possible strategies for a just transition. Moreover, just transition roadmaps will be co-developed for each cluster with stakeholders and local people. Our final output will be a synthetic framework that integrates our data across methods and scales of analysis.

Principal Investigator: Benjamin Sovacool, University of Sussex 

Project Collaborators: University of Manchester, University of Exeter

MIP 3 – Operating net-zero industrial clusters

Operating a net-zero industrial cluster must consider the wider implications of achieving growth and being economically viable – and must have corresponding business models. It will require innovation in financing decarbonisation to reduce dependence on CO2 trading schemes. Similarly, there is a gap in economic geography research (net-zero sense of place) to attract inward investment and recruit skilled workers to operate these industrial clusters. This programme will deliver models and frameworks that can be tested and validated within IDRIC and the clusters, creating net-zero industrial exemplars for national and international learning and skills development.

Significant investment (£ billions) is required to deliver on wide scale industrial decarbonisation. Currently the challenges associated with a lack of coherent strategy, policy inertia, short term market forces and technological innovation are undermining the case for this investment. As we go forward to a net-zero economy, investment will be unlocked based on having an evidence-based solution for decarbonisation together with a regional strategy for jobs and growth. In recent decades, the growth or otherwise of industrial clusters has been largely driven by market forces and there is a need to consider wider applications in the context of new decarbonisation strategies. Hence, a planned industrial cluster must also consider the wider implications of achieving growth, being economically viable and having corresponding business models which can deliver. This project will go beyond conventional engineering approaches and properly integrate economic and investment decisions, and thereby increase the probability of making effective investments. In this context, this project will develop a Smart Digital Model (SDM) using digital technologies (AI, machine learning, etc.) to support the decision-making process for the identification of near optimal decarbonisation solutions with the focus on the hydrogen economy. The SDM will enable users to compare scenarios and predict the potential socio-economic and environmental impact (e.g. regional growth, jobs and decarbonisation) in the region. The project team will work closely with the Teesside cluster and Tees Valley Combined Authority to develop knowledge models for the adoption of decarbonisation technologies (market environments, business models, technologies, energy used, investment data, etc.), assessment and benchmarking and predictive models. The model will be validated using use case for the transition to hydrogen.

Principal Investigator: Prof Nashwan Dawood, Teesside University

Project Collaborators:  Durham University, Tees Valley Combined Authority, NGN, Sembcorp, Northern PowerGrid, NEPIC

Meeting the challenge of industrial decarbonisation requires large scale fuel switching to clean hydrogen, either blue hydrogen from fossil sources coupled with CCUS or green hydrogen using renewables like wind and solar. Analysis by BEIS suggests 250-460TWh of hydrogen could be needed in 2050 (BEIS (2021), Carbon Budget 6 Impact Assessment). Safe transport and efficient underground hydrogen storage are essential to enable this large-scale energy transition based on intermittent renewable sources and meeting seasonal variations in energy demand. This project focuses on promoting a reliable cost-effective hydrogen transportation network in tandem with large storage and distribution hubs.

The UK currently has approximately 1.5 billion cubic meters, or 145TWh, of active underground natural gas storage capacity (salt caverns and depleted gas reservoirs). Current above ground (specialist tanks) and underground storage (salt caverns) methods simply cannot meet the required capacity to store similar levels of energy. Therefore, repurposing of depleted gas reservoirs to hydrogen storage sites is essential. To transport hydrogen between industrial clusters, underground storage sites and domestic consumers, fiscal metering of a hydrogen fuel blend is crucial. In collaboration with industrial partners, we aim to identify and reduce the risks of geological storage and transport of typical hydrogen streams.

Principal Investigator: Prof Mercedes M. Maroto-Valer, Heriot Watt University

Project Collaborators: British Geological Survey

Green bonds are financial assets that have become crucial means for institutions, NGOs and governments to raise funding for green investments. Green Bonds are critical to industrial decarbonisation. Despite being a US$1 trillion global market, their relatively recent emergence means they are understudied in academic literature. There is a major gap in our understanding of the association between a number of interrelated processes. These include the capital raised to fund green infrastructure projects; the disbursement of funds for such projects; the project selection success and mechanisms; and the environmental impact of these funds on climate mitigation and carbon neutralisation. For industrial decarbonisation to proceed at pace there will need to be an equivalent speed in decarbonisation funding innovation. This will depend on issuers and underwriters understanding the risks associated with this funding, which in turn depend on a complex set of interrelated socioeconomic systems. We will review the network of organisations involved in decarbonisation finance and employ advanced graph matching algorithms to determine financing risks. Our overall aim is to define the risk management profile of decarbonisation funding in the UK. Our research findings will aid capital distribution and resource allocation strategies, and examine the compliance of such strategies with green finance and environmental monitoring regulations. 

Principal Investigator: Heather McGregor, Heriot-Watt University 

Sense of place is a geography concept that involves the branding of areas or regions, as well as the lived experience and place attachments of local communities who live in those areas. Despite the significance of sense of place for social acceptance of decarbonisation technologies, ways that sense of place are implicated in, and impacted by, UK industrial decarbonisation has been overlooked by research to date. This project will investigate how stakeholders such as local authorities and economic partnerships in six industrial clusters are creating a ‘net zero’ sense of place with a distinct local identity, fostering innovation, attracting inward investment and recruiting skilled workers. Second, the project will reveal community lived experience and local knowledge, including place attachments and identities, in three cluster case studies (Grangemouth, Merseyside and South Wales, aiming to reach remaining clusters in a potential follow-up study). These tasks will be achieved using an innovative mixed-method approach. Third, workshops will be held in each case study cluster to compare visions of place-based decarbonisation between stakeholder and community participants. Collectively, the research approach will produce an integrative framework guiding a socially acceptable, place-based process of decarbonisation and path to net zero emissions that will positively impact UK industrial clusters and offer guidance for decarbonisation elsewhere.

Principal Investigator: Patrick Devine-Wright, University of Exeter

MIP 4 – Scale up opportunities at cluster and value chain level

Industrial energy systems are responsible for furnishing power, heat, and electricity for manufacturing processes. We focus on technological opportunities arising from clustering industry facilities and establishing economies of scale at cluster level, as well the challenges of making and implementing policy in a technologically complex sector. This programme will collectively identify and mitigate challenges associated with scale up and will share knowledge nationally and internationally to quicken the pace of optimised decarbonisation globally.

Mobile Energy Stored as Heat (MESH) aims to address the challenge of industrial waste heat recovery, storage & reuse using novel heat storage materials (HSM) which store energy indefinitely. The objective is to move heat from industrial regions to where there is demand and one clear target is home heating which must be delivered in new-build without gas by 2025. The focussed industrial site is a 760MW waste heat resource equivalent to over 500,000 home heating systems responsible for >1Mt CO2 per annum.

The MESH research work programme will underpin key decarbonisation challenges: utilisation of waste streams; development of new energy storage materials and systems; improved energy efficiency and system design & scale-up modelling to accelerate and de-risk potential implementation across multiple industrial clusters.

MESH unites leading UK academic partners with strong track records and using layered funding from multiple sources that supports contiguous TRL development. It cements a strong complimentary collaboration between Swansea and Birmingham Universities and the SPECIFIC IKC with IDRIC partners. Industrial partners will have the opportunity to analyse their waste heat utilisation potential leading to decarbonizing their operations through internal heat re-use or through valorisation of waste heat to supply surrounding communities.

Principal Investigator: Prof David Worsley, Swansea University

Project Collaborators: Tata Steel UK and University of Birmingham

 

Gas Compression (GC) and Industrial Thermal Processing (ITP) are two major and often co-located CO2 emission hot spots within industrial clusters (ICs), contributing >5MT CO2/year to UK emissions. We bring together a multidisciplinary team from fourteen organisations, comprising three Universities; nine industrial companies with operations across all ICs, particularly South Wales IC (SWIC), Teesside IC (TIC) & Black Country (BCIC); and two local authorities. The aims are to develop and demonstrate integrated and flexible solutions to address key technological challenges, to accelerate the IC decarbonisation and to facilitate the ICs to support wider energy network decarbonisation. The specific academic objectives of the project are:

  • To flexibly integrate GC and ITP to give cost-effective and resilient decarbonisation solutions compatible with both existing (high-carbon) and future (net-zero-carbon) ICs;
  • To ensure the proposed solutions support current and future local, national and international energy networks infrastructure including Mobile Energy Stored as Heat (MESH);
  • To enhance the resilience of the proposed solutions to support business evolution within ICs;
  • To dynamically and synergistically balance IC energy and compressed gas supply with demand in a cost-effective manner that also supports local multi-vector energy networks;
  • To help enhance the competitiveness of IC companies, leading to the creation and protection of jobs in IC regions and their supply chains.

Principal Investigator: Yulong Ding, University of Birmingham

Project Collaborators: Durham University, Swansea University, Highview Power Ltd, Uni Birwelco Ltd, Innovatium Group Ltd, Siemens Energy Ltd, IES Ltd, JJ Bioenergy Ltd, Calgavin Ltd, CR Plus Ltd,  Tyseley Energy Park, Webster & Horsfall Group, The Black Country Consortium/Black Country LEP, Tees Valley Combined Authority

The aim of the project is to provide a systematic understanding of how different interests and ideas have influenced the industrial decarbonisation (ID) policy process in the UK, both in general and in relation to the Industrial Clusters Mission (ICM). The project will look at three issues:

  • How agendas in a number of different streams of policy – industrial policy, regional policy, climate policy, innovation policy – have come together in the current industrial decarbonisation strategy and how the interaction of these agendas have shaped the nature of the strategy and its likely effectiveness
  • The influence of different interests and coalitions on how industrial decarbonisation policy is balancing supply and demand side approaches, different technological solutions, sectoral and cluster approaches and cross-and within-cluster allocation of resources
  • The institutional underpinnings of differences in electricity prices for energy intensive industries in the UK and various European countries, and implications for UK policy on industrial energy

Principal Investigator: Matthew Lockwood, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School

Project Collaborators: Advisory group includes members of the Universities of Manchester, Leeds and Cambridge, Green Alliance, Aldersgate Group

MIP 5 – Energy vectors for industrial decarbonisation

This programme explores how to produce and transition to new energy vectors competitively, including the impacts of technological shifts and related changes on industrial policy. Transitioning to zero carbon fuels (ZCFs) presents a challenge because flexible selection of appropriate blends affects design and operation. How to prioritise vectors is a critical issue for decarbonisation globally and this program will create and examine multiple options to reduce fossil reliance in several areas, using consistent approaches to their assessment and optimisation. This will enable scientific advance leading to the provision of new fuels and materials with international markets, as well as the ability to provide robust policy advice.

This project aims to de-risk transition and deployment of zero-carbon fuels (ZCFs) by supporting designers and operators of heat and power plants through measurements (for CFD model development and validation), demonstration and life cycle assessment. The project will quantify the ignitability and extinction characteristics of ZCF fuel blends and evaluate the consequences for the operability of internal combustion engines and gas turbines.

Principal Investigators: Prof Yannis Hardalupas, Imperial College London; Prof Philip Bowen, University of Cardiff

Project Collaborators: Siemens Energy, Shell Global Solutions, Mayphil, CRPlus, South Wales Industrial Cluster

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/energy-futures-lab/research-projects/idric/

Tata Steel, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) and other industries within the South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) are significant emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) including CO2, CO and CH4. These industries are actively seeking to decarbonize these emissions. The economic costs of decarbonization are reduced if carbon is converted to valuable platform chemicals such as volatile fatty acids (VFAs), instead of being captured for disposal or converted into GHGs such as CH2. There is a large market for VFAs valued at over €1.5 billion growing at 15% p.a. The Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC) at The University of South Wales (USW) has developed several microbial conversion technologies which convert waste carbon in gas streams and biomass to VFA. SERC has demonstrated the feasibility of these processes, but challenges remain concerning intensification and scaleup to accommodate large carbon emissions from industries within SWIC; for example, Tata Steel produces 146,878 m3/h of CO and CO2 at its South Wales site alone. Alongside technical challenges, resistance to change must be addressed by showing how these processes can be incorporated into industries that typically have long development and investment cycles. This will involve producing detailed lifecycle analyses (LCA), and technoeconomic assessments (TEA) of the processes being developed.

Principal Investigator: Alan Guwy, Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC) , University of South Wales

Project Collaborators: Marcelle McManus, LCA modelling of decarbonisation processes, University of Bath, Mechanical Engineering. Gareth Lloyd, Onsite pilot scale CO2 and CO bioconversion, Tata Steel. Ben Burggraaf, Development of Biomass conversion processes, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW).

https://serc.research.southwales.ac.uk/vfa-factory/ 

In this project we wish to enable efficient, large scale conversion of CO2  to green fuels and feedstocks, utilizing low carbon electricity to drive this process.  Solid oxide electrolysis offers highly efficient conversion of steam and carbon dioxide to hydrogen and carbon monoxide, respectively.  Use of such electrolysis will provide synthesis gas for further conversion through Fischer Tropsch and similar processes to yield carbon neutral fuels and feedstocks.  

We will focus upon co-electrolysis of CO2 and steam seeking to develop efficient systems to produce synthesis gas without risk of coking. Three tasks will be pursued: 

  • Development of coking resistant SOE materials sets for components and electrolytes. 
  • System modelling to develop effective modular SOE systems probing different design concepts 
  • Characterisation of CO2 Solid Electrolysis at Scale performing coupon level tests in the large scale SOE test rig. 

Project PI: John TS Irvine, University of St Andrews     

Project Collaborators: Imperial College London, Scottish Power Networks, LERG, Drochaid, Ceres Power

Industrial decarbonisation is strongly dependent on integrating sustainable production of chemical energy vectors in industries also referred as Power-to-X (P2X). The chemical industry can achieve this by using CO2 for producing different products to embed carbon in products, reducing carbon emissions.

A key technology to realise the potential of P2X is Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOEC), which enables the conversion of CO2 into sustainable chemicals for the ongoing energy transition into a low carbon future. Two workshops create the backbone of this project, where the first workshop introduces P2X and scope its potential at cluster sites followed by a workshop tailored towards P2X implementation. Our initial P2X focus will be on organic chemicals, particularly ethylene and ethylene glycol (EG), to develop a more sustainable and efficient alternative, which will analyse using life-cycle assessment, for making commodity chemicals from non-petroleum feedstocks.

This opens very attractive commercial opportunities to produce marketable products for all industrial clusters, especially for those clusters that may not have CO2 and H2 storage options. To achieve high product selectivity, conversion yields and current efficiencies to minimize energy requirements, we will develop cost effective catalysts and electrolytes of the electrochemical conversion; and optimize the process through reactor design.

Principal Investigator: Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Heriot-Watt University

A critical issue in any industrial decarbonisation is the transition from “sunset” industries to “sunrise” industries. The former are high carbon; but have (very) large flows of finance, need to manage sunk assets, underpin regional employment, shape the existing skills base, and have significant political clout. The latter are low or zero carbon; but are under-resourced in investment, need to diffuse new technologies, don’t yet employ significant numbers of workers, have different skills needs, and are not well organised to engage with politics, unions and civil society. Resolving this fundamental tension is a recurring theme in UK energy and industrial policy, as governments seek to balance key objectives including decarbonisation and associated environmental goals, economic growth, employment (especially in key regions), and equitable societal impacts. Similarly, this is a key issue for firms, as they seek stable income streams and use in an uncertain world, balanced with the need to be innovative and risk taking in developing the products and infrastructures of the future. This project explicitly injects political economy into the traditional techno-economic focus on modelling of industrial energy. As such it plays a core role in IDRIC’s Social, Economic & Policy Aspects theme, and particularly in the sub-theme on smart policies and governance.

Principal Investigator: Neil Strachan, University College London

MIP 6 – Accelerating deployment of CCUS for industrial decarbonisation

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is vital to reducing industrial emissions at lowest cost globally. However, CCUS deployment needs to accelerate rapidly and significant barriers still exist, such as fast-tracking routes to market, dynamic storage capacity, access to UK CO2 storage capacity appraisal, as well as socio-economic aspects. Building upon our current international collaborations in CCUS, as well as UKRI related funded programmes, these internationally leading projects will enable IDRIC to support the UK’s role in the deployment of CCUS for industrial decarbonisation globally. Collaborating with the individual clusters, skills will be developed and shared throughout IDRIC and beyond.

Decarbonisation from a variety of industrial emission sectors highlights a marked need for capture technologies that can be optimized for different sources of CO2 and integrated in an equally diverse range of applications of captured CO2 as a feedstock. This project will explore the opportunity for innovative and cost-competitive sorbent-based technologies to breakthrough into current markets. The specific objectives are:

  1. mapping of the characteristics for the different CO2 sources and potential sink (i.e. storage, utilization) options for the different industrial emitters;
  2. establish a cost-based ranking of a large number of promising carbon capture materials;
  3. establish a comparison of sorbent-based with state-of-the-art capture technologies;
  4. gather evidence to inform decision and policymakers; and
  5. contribute to skills development and capacity building.

This project will help and contribute towards current international efforts to fast-track the route to market of low TRL advanced sorbent-based capture technologies required for the timely deployment of CCUS at the scale and cost required by 2030 and beyond. The UK is already leading that effort – see Project PrISMa www.prisma.hw.ac.uk; exploring its potential in industrial clusters would be the fastest way for the UK to drive down costs and take advantage of the value that CCUS offers to achieve our net-zero targets.

Principal Investigator: Susana Garcia, Heriot-Watt University

Industrial decarbonisation through CCUS and/or blue hydrogen, produced from natural gas with CCS, involves processing of numerous complex mixtures. Gas separations are crucial along with blending, compression, dehydration, transportation and geological storage. Thermodynamic properties are absolutely fundamental to these processes, many of which operate in regimes (of composition, temperature, pressure) not commonly encountered.

Although engineers have numerous thermodynamic models available, there is a lack of consistent and reliable models verified for the relevant conditions. Cubic equations of state (EoS), the workhorses of chemical engineering thermodynamics, can be reliable for predicting phase equilibria but are often inaccurate for phase properties such as density and enthalpy. Modern fundamental EoS, based on the multi-fluid Helmholtz energy approximation (MFHEA), offer substantial advantages.

Building upon available high-accuracy Helmholtz EoS for pure substances, the MFHEA was developed for natural-gas systems [1], and has been extended to combustion gases including some CO2-rich mixtures [2]; however, it is not currently parameterised for all key components in CCUS and hydrogen processes. This is especially true of mixtures containing hydrogen. Therefore, the first objective is to develop the parameter sets necessary to fully incorporate hydrogen as a mixture component within the MFHEA.

Currently, the MFHEA approach is not widely utilised in industry, with the exception of natural-gas properties required in custody transfer. Lack of familiarity and perceived concerns about computational demands are among the reasons. On the other hand, the shortcomings of traditional approaches are not widely recognised. Therefore, the second objective will be to undertake and publish case studies with industrial collaborators in which the role of thermodynamic models in CCUS and/or hydrogen processes is explored. Specifically, the task will be to contrast the predicted process performance using traditional thermodynamic models and the MFHEA. References: 1. Kunz, O.; Wagner, W. J. Chem. Eng. Data (2012), 57, 3032-3091 2. Gernert, J.; Span, R. J. Chem. Thermo. (2016) 93, 274-293 

Principal Investigator: Prof J P Martin Trusler, Imperial College London

Project Collaborators: Dr Jon Maddy, University of South Wales

Large-scale CCUS requires the availability and flexible utilisation of a CO2 transport and storage network. Important challenges, however, are the time varying injection profile and dynamic storage capacity of any site within the network which need to be determined to establish its attractiveness as potential store. Also, from the network operator’s viewpoint, the overall cost of storing a contracted amount of CO2 needs to be considered in a dynamic, time dependent framework that respects complex engineering, economic and regulatory constraints. Building onto earlier work by PI Korre and CoI Durucan, we will address how dynamic, time dependent and uncertain storage constraints, unexpected changes in supply rate and uncertain carbon tax and credit policies affect short-term operability, long-term flexibility and total costs at CCUS cluster level. We aim to clarify the relationship between network design choices (system flexibility, short term and long-term security of storage capacity, supply and total cost) and constraints (geological uncertainty, operational risk and economic factors’ variability). This project will combine these elements into an integrated model for optimisation of transport and storage networks to support stakeholders in large scale CCUS deployment for the industrial decarbonisation clusters.

Principal Investigator: Anna Korre, Imperial College London  

Project Collaborators: BP, OGCI, Pale Blue Dot, Net Zero Teeside

The world-leading UK national CO2 storage database CO2Stored (see www.CO2Stored.co.uk) provides freely available detailed information on more than 570 prospective storage units around the UK. The database has been the starting point for all recent public-private and industry storage capacity appraisals. It provides the first, significant step to industry and researchers to inform their plans for UK-wide industrial decarbonisation by CCUS. The IDRIC CO2Stored 2.0 project will deliver up-to-date information on the UK storage resource for all UK clusters to plan emissions reduction by CCS. This will be achieved by consultation and feedback with IDRIC members to identify additional publicly available information for planned database updates from:

• Already-available information including government-funded investigations and research

• Update of offshore hydrocarbon field stores from available data

• Recent data sources identified and provided by IDRIC members

• IDRIC-funded CO2 storage research projects

Principal Investigator: Dr Maxine Akhurst, British Geological Survey (BGS)

Project Collaborators: Heriot-Watt University

To accelerate industrial decarbonisation at scale, low carbon technologies must be perceived as credible and legitimate climate change solutions and for there to be trust between stakeholders and communities across governance scales; this is known as social license to operate (SLO). This project will engage industrial stakeholders and citizens within two clusters (Humberside  / North West) to co-produce a context-specific blueprint of conditions for a robust industrial decarbonisation SLO. The approach accommodates the unique configurations of industries, geographies, and historical, cultural and environmental factors in the clusters which will underpin the delivery of regional- and national-scale industrial decarbonisation.  It will use a deliberative process to map key issues relating to low carbon technology deployment in the clusters from the perspectives of both stakeholders and lay publics and develop a detailed understanding of socio-political agendas at different scales. The iterative and reflexive framework will engage stakeholders and lay citizens in a process to assess the status and level of SLO in each cluster, building up a blueprint of conditions for a SLO to decarbonise industry in the clusters and beyond.

Principal Investigator: Clair Gough, University of Manchester

MIP 7 – Large scale deployment of hydrogen systems for industrial decarbonisation

Transitioning to a hydrogen-based energy system is a key pathway to achieve industrial decarbonisation. However, significant barriers exist, including production at scale, storage, infrastructure investments, as well as distribution and safety considerations. Collectively, this programme will develop technologies, skills and evidence for realising the strategic role of hydrogen to decarbonise UK industrial clusters and reach net zero targets.

The Energy Institute held a hydrogen energy transition workshop with stakeholders in hydrogen production, storage and distribution, which identified that an energy balance for the whole industrial hydrogen energy system would assist in decision making about the relative merits of the different methods for hydrogen production, through the value chain, to end use applications. There lacks an understanding of the relative efficiencies of the industrial hydrogen energy system, and quantification of the energy intensity and associated CO2 emissions, compared to other energy system fuels. The objective of Phase 1 is to evaluate the energy balance and efficiency for each industrial hydrogen system option, so as to understand the relative efficiencies, and to quantify the energy intensity and associated CO2 emissions. This would be delivered by a desk-top literature and industrial cluster review, and stakeholder survey/interviews to understand what knowledge and experience exists. This Phase 1 study will enable understanding of whether a ‘gap-filling’ detailed study is required in Phase 2 (which is excluded from the scope of this proposal). At the Energy Institute hydrogen energy transition workshop, this topic was deemed medium-high priority and medium impact (ratings were high, medium or low). 

Principal Investigator: Martin Maeso, Energy Institute

Project CollaboratorsUniversity of Nottingham, Kingston University, Saudi Aramco, BP, Centrica, Chrysaor, DCC, Genesis Oil & Gas, National Grid, Shell, SSE, Uniper, ENI, Total, Logan Energy, ITM Power, Kiwa Gastec, Progressive Energy

The potential for hydrogen to play a key role in de-carbonisation of many aspects of the economy is well established, but the challenge is that current routes to green hydrogen, such as electrolysis coupled with renewables, are too expensive, and suffer from challenges of operating at scale. This proposal addresses both these points, focussing on the development of lower cost and scalable electrolyser technology, based around both low and high temperature electrolysers, along with the co-production of other chemicals to improve the process economics e.g. replacing the production of oxygen with other high value chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, ozone and other valuable oxidants. The UK has a strong and emerging base in electrolyser technology, with well established companies such as INEOS, rapidly emerging SMEs such as Ceres Power, energy storage technology based around hydrogen being developed by RFC Power, along with other existing major companies in the supply chain such as Johnson Matthey, and all these companies will be engaged in the programme.

Principal Investigator: Prof Nigel Brandon, Imperial College London

Project Collaborators: INEOS, Ceres Power, RFC Power, Johnson Matthey

UK clusters are major consumers of industrial oxygen gas, in particular steel producers, chemical plants and general manufacturing. Currently, the global £44billion oxygen market is growing 4-5% annually and deep decarbonisation technologies can be key suppliers. Hence, the main challenge this project is focusing on is innovative solutions for utilisation of co-produced oxygen to enable deep decarbonisation to fully benefit from the benefit of water electrolysis.

Principal Investigator: Dr John Andresen, Heriot-Watt University

Project Collaborators: ITM Power

The utilization of hydrogen as a fuel is one way to enable the decarbonisation of industrial clusters and domestic heating. This project responds to this opportunity by assessing the potential for subsurface storage of hydrogen in rocks, thereby avoiding the requirement for surface storage facilities. Although gas storage is commercially undertaken in engineered caverns in halite, this is only possible in certain areas of the UK where there are suitable beds of halite (Cheshire, Teesside, Lancashire). For other areas of the UK, alternative storage options in porous/ fractured bedrock need to be identified. However, there is an urgent need to understand the behaviour of these rocks when acting as storage volumes for hydrogen, and the impacts of pumping and multiple storage cycles on the effectiveness and efficiency of this important future energy need.  This project will provide innovative models to achieve this by the integration of physical, geomechanical and 3D properties of potential host rocks. These will provide the industry with clear and reliable information for potential host rocks for hydrogen storage. In addition, by combining this information with geological datasets, our project will provide the industry with maps showing where the storage of hydrogen in the sub-surface is viable.

Principal Investigator: Edward Hough, British Geological Survey 

Project Collaborators: University of Manchester

As part of the transition to fully decarbonize steelmaking and other processes, this project aims to investigate a Sorption Enhanced Water Gas Shift (SEWGS) process route, to discover optimal technical configurations and provide greater understanding of the potential economics of adopting a SEWGS for hydrogen and carbon dioxide recovery. The SEWGS approach is also applicable to many thermochemical hydrogen production routes and could enhance steam methane reforming, autothermal reforming and partial oxidation, as well as biomass-based processes that derive syngas intermediate streams. Standard water gas shift is well known and widely applied to increase hydrogen yield from syngas streams in a range of process plant and is currently being considered to assist with decarbonization, particularly for the Port Talbot steel works. However, SEWGS potentially offers significant efficiency improvements beyond standard WGS and therefore a putative operating cost reduction of ~25% compared with a standard approach. The project proposed includes detailed process and economic modelling to optimize the SEWGS application. It also builds on current research at the University of South Wales’ Hydrogen Centre to experiment on optimal hydrogen purification from the SEWGS process with efficient electrochemical compression to derive a high purity, high pressure hydrogen product.  

Principal Investigator: Jon Maddy, University of South Wales

Project Collaborators: Tata Steel, SR Plus, SWIC, BCC

The steel, oil refining, and chemical industries account for about 40% of UK industrial GHG emissions. Industrial reorientation towards low-carbon technologies is challenging because incumbent firms in these industries are locked into existing technologies, skills, and business models. Additionally, incumbent firms are reluctant to make large low-carbon capital expenditures, because this may weaken their position in cut-throat international competition. Combining insights from two literatures (innovation studies and organisation theory), this project will analyse both the resistance to change in the steel, oil refining, and chemical industries, and the process of low-carbon reorientation, which is conceptualised as a gradual process that proceeds through several phases: a) defensive hedging and incremental improvements in existing technology (e.g. energy efficiency), b) diversification and utilisation of best available technology (e.g. CHP, heat recovery), c) full reorientation towards disruptive innovations (e.g. CCUS, fuel switching to biomass or hydrogen). Analysing industry journals, policy documents, expert interviews and secondary sources (e.g. academic publications, consultancy reports), this project will investigate the barriers and drivers of low-carbon reorientation in each industry, what reorientation phase each industries is, and what explains differences and similarities.

Principal Investigator: Frank Willem Geels, The University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester Business School

Project Collaborators: Prof Benjamin Sovacool, University of Sussex, Business School

MIP 8 – Reducing costs and risks of Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) and their integration in industrial clusters.

To achieve net-zero it will be necessary to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to offset residual emissions through deployment of NETs. Here, we focus on the co-development of NETs with industry, which is essential for their scalable deployment and for meeting net-zero targets. This programme builds upon work with the UKRI Greenhouse Gas Removal programme. All projects are part of a wider global academic and industrial programme of activity to explore, develop, assess and incentivise NETs, highlighting opportunities, as well as areas of risks and costs. Knowledge and skills gained from this programme will be shared nationally and internationally.

Challenge: To utilize CO2 by its conversion to high protein feedstuff for agriculture and high value chemicals.

Objective: To design and test a new 3D ‘CUBE’ reactor that will enable high volume CCU.

Academic: Algae are organisms with the potential to provide efficient green CCU, with a consumption of 1.8 kg CO2 per kg of algae produced. Unfortunately, large-scale production is limited by the requirement to use natural light for photosynthesis. Most importantly for Industrial scalability natural light restricts photobioreactor geometries, limiting design to 2D (typically raceways or tubular systems) that make large scale operation problematic and uneconomic.

Industrial: Internally lit photobioreactors will revolutionize the industry and deliver a step change leading to intensive production of high quality, high value algae and derived products. The ‘CUBE’ reactor is conceptually simple of very basic design with an internally lit airlift system that delivers cost effective algal growth, i.e., no pumping and only absorbed frequencies of light are delivered to the organism. Essentially this is a box, which is then perfectly suitable for scale-up to any working capacity, i.e., line up and stack the boxes to generate capacity giving true 3-dimensional scale-up.  

Principal Investigator: Andrew R. Barron & Darren Oatley-Radcliffe, University of Swansea

Project Collaborators: Vale Clydach Refinery, Tata (Port Talbot Works)

To achieve net-zero emissions targets it will be necessary to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to offset residual emissions. This project will explore negative emission technology (NETs) vectors that could be deployed by industrial clusters. Focusing on NETs relevant to the industrial sector, we will explore how alkaline materials (e.g., lime, cement, and waste slag) can be used to capture atmospheric CO2. This project will specifically:  

  • Investigate key fundamental chemical processes that underpin the reaction of these materials with CO2, which will enable the design and optimisation of chemically engineered systems 
  • Map the production of these materials across the UK, assess their CO2 capture potential, and their possible benefit and enabling activities for industrial clusters
  • Explore how alkaline materials may be purposefully made for reaction with atmospheric CO2 

This is part of a global academic and industrial programme of activity to explore, develop, assess and incentivise NETs, the UK is already world leading in this space from previously funded UKRI programmes. However, this agenda has, until now, been considered in isolation from industrial decarbonisation. However, the co-development of NETs with industry is essential for their scalable deployment, and for meeting net-zero emission targets. 

Principal Investigator: Phil Renforth, Heriot-Watt University

Project Collaborators: Origen Power, Singleton Birch, Darlow-Lloyd

The main challenge is to accelerate the cost-effective decarbonisation of industry by developing, validating, and deploying low-carbon technologies. Production of valued chemicals and fuels from biomass gasification with CO2 capture has great potential: In the short term, it will enable the displacement of virgin-fossil energy sources and will contribute to an efficient mix of renewable energies. In addition, they will contribute to the decarbonisation of industrial sectors. The energy efficiency and capital cost of converting biomass and residual wastes to aviation fuels are major barriers to widespread adoption. Current biomass gasification technologies focus on maximising H2/syngas production and venting/ capturing the CO2 afterwards. 

The challenge is not only on production but also CO2 capture during the process phase, increasing its efficiency and that of the gas separation and utilisation. Some of the technical challenges include:  

  • Impact of challenging feedstock leading to high level of impurities, moderate H2/CO2 ratio, 
  • Catalyst types /formulation and impact on process cost and efficiency, 
  •  Reactor and gas cleaning technologies.  

Therefore, further development of advanced technologies will enable niche market opportunities for excess CO2 use that are scalable, commercially feasible at reduced cost and deliver greenhouse gas reduction targets for different industrial sectors. 

Principal Investigator: Mohamed Pourkashanian, University of Sheffield  

Project Collaborators: Drax

Decarbonisation of electricity generation is a key requirement for the UK to reach net zero by 20501 and Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) is recognised as an essential technology to enable this industrial decarbonisation2.  Despite this, the environmental and social impacts, alongside optimum size and siting of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), are not well understood, particularly at the regional scale. The aim of this research is to identify optimal sites for BECCS that provide a win-win for both energy decarbonisation, and wider benefits to the environment, quantified as ecosystem services, enabling a successful move to net zero by 2050, across the UK.  To achieve this we have developed a modelling optimisation tool that is resolved for the whole UK at 1 x 1 km2. This tool considers the market value of biomass, alongside a basket of ecosystem services including soil carbon, water stress, flood protection and food crop value., Our first optimisations have shown that significant spatial differences are apparent for optimised BECCS. However, these results are limited since not all major power clusters requiring decarbonisation were considered. In this project we will investigate the potential of the IDRIC clusters across the UK to deliver BECCS and identify the optimal sites.

Principal Investigator: Gail Taylor and Lindsay-Marie Armstrong, University of Southampton

Project Collaborators: UKERC, Bioenergy Hub (Aston University), Energy Systems Catapult, ADVENT

This project will explore the use of bio-based mechanisms to help industry, and industrial processes, be decarbonised. A range of mechanisms are needed to decarbonise effectively and rapidly, and in order to achieve net zero across multiple sectors some form of bio and land-based carbon management is required. This includes utilising the ability of agriculture to contribute negative emissions that can be netted against the residual emissions from industrial clusters which are the hardest to decarbonise. Linking industrial clusters with the wider regional setting will also enhance their opportunity to provide lasting sustainability, and promotes integration with local environmental and ecological impacts and opportunities. This project will identify the wider life cycle and ecosystem service opportunities and impact of land management for carbon. By directly linking the industrial clusters with the wider, rural community this project will determine the dynamic capacity of land and bio-based carbon storage. Although focused on the South Wales industrial cluster (SWIC), the approaches and methods can be applied more widely. We will work closely with projects 27 and 44 (using funds from 44 as additional resource for the LCA). The project will also help foster links between Supergen Bioenergy Hub and IDRIC. 

Principal Investigator: Marcelle C McManus, University of Bath

Project Collaborators: Aberystwyth University, UKCEH (Lancaster)

MIP 9 – Integration: Policy, knowledge exchange and skills

To ensure the challenging timescales for industrial decarbonisation can be met, it will be essential to avoid silos and instead share knowledge, develop skills and to use all IDRIC resources to inform relevant policy developments. IDRIC must become the go-to centre of excellence for research and innovation, as well as regulation, policy and skills. This programme will integrate and coordinate the relevant inputs for, and outputs from IDRIC and related projects and activities.

Policy and regulation play a vital role in enabling industrial decarbonisation and the transition to net zero in the UK. The IDRIC Policy Team works to link IDRIC’s leading research expertise with the experience of our industry partners to provide policymakers across the UK with reliable, insightful and impartial analysis. As part of its policy stakeholder engagement, the Policy Team also convenes close academic and industry partners from across all UK industrial clusters to discuss policy priorities for accelerating industrial decarbonisation. The synthesis of key messages forms the basis for continuing dialogue with external stakeholders, ensuring that IDRIC’s policy delivery is focused on areas where it is best positioned to support industrial decarbonisation in the UK.

For further info, please visit IDRIC’s Policy Hub. If you have any questions for the Policy Team or would like to engage more closely on an industrial decarbonisation policy issue, please contact policy@idric.org.

Project Leads: Anna Pultar & John Ferrier, IDRIC central team

Project Collaborators: Keith McLean, Providence Policy

Integration of knowledge synthesis and exchange across IDRIC

Project Lead: Isobel Marr, IDRIC central team

For more information please contact info@idric.com

Fully decarbonising global industry is essential to meeting the Paris Agreement. Many countries in Europe and beyond are providing funding for demonstration projects and engaging in policy and business model experimentation to reduce carbon emissions from energy intensive industrial clusters. Several of these clusters e.g. in Rotterdam (Netherlands) & North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany) have well established multi-stakeholder decarbonisation initiatives. Others e.g. Kawasaki City (Japan) are demonstrating new technologies such as hydrogen production and use.  

In the UK, the Government is embarking on an ambitious strategy to establish the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040, with at least one low carbon cluster by 2030. This proposed project aims to inform the UK’s industrial decarbonisation plans by identifying lessons and best practice from international experience. The work will be undertaken in collaboration with researchers from the Low Carbon Societies Research Network (LCS-RNet) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), who are leading experts in the field. Specific activities will include a structured review of recent international evidence on industrial decarbonisation, interviews with actors from industry, government and academia in a range of countries and workshops that bring together UK and international stakeholders to share experiences and lessons

Principal Investigator:  Peter Taylor, University of Leeds

Project Collaborators: Wuppertal Institute, Germany; Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (NIES), Japan; International Energy Agency, France

The Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) was set up to accelerate innovation and deployment of low carbon technologies and associated infrastructure while simultaneously stimulating economic growth within a wide variety of industrial sectors. The industrial clusters are significant hubs of economic strength both within their local communities and nationally. It is important that the significant reduction in carbon emissions required to achieve net zero maintains or increases this economic activity both during and after the transition. The technologies behind decarbonisation routes for industry are largely understood and at high technology readiness levels. The critical information that is needed to build investor confidence and transition to these low carbon technologies, is to understand which combination of these technologies and underpinning infrastructure offers the best economic benefits in the long term, when coupled to the transitioning energy system.

This project will elicit industrial GHG emission data as inputs to a national energy system model, enabling a better understanding of sequencing of decarbonisation activity and the consequences of prescribing particular decarbonisation routes. It will also map interdependencies between industrial clusters to minimise siloed decarbonisation strategies, from a technology and supply chain perspective, highlighting the no-regret investment options. 

Principal Investigator: Paul Guest, Energy Systems Catapult

Project Collaborators: Black Country LEP, NECCUS

The capacity of regional industrial clusters to implement green technologies is contingent on: knowledge exchange networks; knowledge creation networks; collaboration networks and the position of key actors in this multi-layered structure. Our research considers whether there are opportunities to optimize the interaction of critical nodes?  What would make these systems of knowledge exchange resilient?
This project will employ social network analysis and will employ descriptive, visual and inferential analytic methods. We will collect collaboration data from each cluster and combine their analysis in a mixed methods research design with publicly available data on patents, KTPs, research funding and other tangible evidence of innovation. Our research will: A. Identify and compare best practice, (including UKRI knowledge transfer partnerships), among clusters; B. Identify latent capacity in systems of knowledge exchange; C. Report on each of the six industrial clusters;  D. Report on policy implications; E. Contribute to the improvement of standards (i.e. ISO 30401).

Principal Investigator: Dimitris Christopoulos, Heriot-Watt University

Project Collaborators: Edinburgh Napier and University California Santa Barbara

Integration of Skills across IDRIC

Project lead: Charlotte McLean, IDRIC central team

For more information contact info@idric.org

The Energy Institute held a hydrogen energy transition workshop with stakeholders in hydrogen production, storage and distribution, which identified that there are insufficient suitably qualified/certified technicians, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, control and instrumentation engineers, project managers and other front line staff to cater for a transition from a petroleum based energy sector to a hydrogen based energy sector. In addition, there lacks the required competence profiles for the comparable roles, and suitable training to facilitate re-skilling against those profiles. This project proposes to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to produce a framework for competency at different levels in working with hydrogen. The project will engage with the industrial clusters and academia to work towards this goal. At the workshop this project was deemed high priority and high impact (ratings were high, medium and low impact). This project is seen as essential to create the necessary skills base in a short period of time to enable a transition to a hydrogen economy. The view is that it is easier to transfer existing skills, knowledge and resource to hydrogen than look to start afresh. This project covers phase 1 only of a two-phase project. 

Principal Investigator: Martin Maeso, Energy Institute

Project Collaborators: University of Nottingham, Kingston University, Institutes and Governing Bodies: IMechE, IET, IGEM, IPIECA, BCGA, BEIS, CCSA, IPIECA; Saudi Aramco, BP, Centrica, Chrysaor, DCC, Genesis Oil & Gas, National Grid, Shell, SSE, Uniper, ENI, Total, Logan Energy, ITM Power, Kiwa Gastec, Progressive Energy

The IDDGC aims to accelerate industrial decarbonisation with deployment at scale by the mid 2020’s; to boost the competitiveness of industrial regions, create and protect jobs and realise export opportunities. The purpose of this project is to enable development of the core and supply chain workforce needed to deliver Industrial Decarbonisation across the UK’s Industrial Clusters. This goal will be achieved through establishing a mechanism whereby the skills requirement can be determined and by promoting pathways to realising these skills. This process will not only help deliver a prepared workforce for the industrial clusters but will drive supply chain development and form a coherent community between Government, academia, training providers and industry. It will also afford a skills mechanism which may be exploited to the benefit of other industrial grand challenge areas. The project will be led by University of Chester but will be executed for IDRIC and the industrial clusters, who may subsequently adopt the ongoing skills analysis and delivery process. Whilst skills may have been considered locally at some level within the clusters, there has been no attempt to realise this data and process nationally. This will require the cooperation and collaboration of Government, industrial clusters, academic institutes and the industrial supply chains. As such, this is an ambitious yet critical project step for IDRIC and the clusters.

Principal Investigator:  Prof Joseph Howe, University of Chester