Academic community convenes to explore sustainable polymer-based advanced materials

26 Nov 2021

CPI and the Henry Royce Institute recently co-sponsored an important virtual event which saw 60 polymer academics convene to develop a Statement of Need detailing how engineering polymers can contribute to achieving net-zero.

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Engineering polymers are a group of plastic materials that have improved mechanical and thermal properties that make them ideal for all types of engineering applications, replacing traditional materials equal or greater in weight, hardness or other properties while being much simpler to manufacture, especially with complex shapes.

The output from the October event represents the next step in a multi-stage influencing process designed to advance the development of a large-scale network to deliver next-generation engineering polymers.

The workshop findings were that engineering polymers need to be much more recognised as value-added advanced materials, supporting new growth industries and also confirmed that they are key enablers of net-zero.

Professor Philip Withers, Royce Chief Scientist said:

’The workshop findings recognise that the UK is in a leading position in polymer-based advanced materials. The UK’s academic strength in polymer chemistry should be maximised via the establishment of a collaborative, large-scale network to deliver next generation engineering polymers designed for end-of-life recycle, reclaim, re-purpose.”

Event Chair, Professor Richard Jones of Materials Physics and Innovation Policy at the University of Manchester said:

’Bringing together the expertise in academia enables members to make valuable connections, showcase the facilities and expertise in this sector and to work together to create an essential strategic requirement for a future vibrant, competitive UK economy.’’

Lois Hobson, CPI Strategic Opportunities Manager explained:

From the enthusiasm generated, it was determined that the next step should be to develop an outline programme over the next three months for discussion and validation with industry, recognising that such capability in engineering polymers will significantly contribute to the achievement of the wider levelling-up agenda.”

Hosted by CPI, the event featured industry speakers and representatives of EPSRC, Innovate UK, and Catapults including, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, National Composites Centre, High Value Manufacturing, Offshore Renewable Energy, and Warwick Manufacturing Group.

The afternoon of 6th April 2022 has been confirmed as the next stage in the consultation process, and will see a further event will which set out a proposed academic-led programme to be debated with industry for relevance, impact and contribution to the UK levelling-up agenda.

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