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NIC3E Research Centre

CO2Chem Chair Professor Peter Styring and Dr Jagroop Pandhal from the University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have received funding as part of a new £4.3 million research centre that aims to improve the sustainability of the UK chemical industry.

Led by Professor Jin Xuan at Loughborough University, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy (NIC3E) will lead a new government push to revolutionise the way resources are managed in the UK’s £32 billion chemical industry to build a greener, more efficient economy.

The new centre will involve seven universities – Loughborough, Cardiff, Heriot-Watt, Imperial College London, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield.

It will also involve more than 20 industrial and international partners, ranging from multinationals such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Croda and Unilever, to SMEs, national and local initiatives, including WRAP, representing the full diversity and breadth of the chemical industry.

At a time of unprecedented change, this is an ideal opportunity for us to help develop new and sustainable manufacturing strategies for the chemicals industry.”

The centre is part of a £22.5m investment announced 11 November 2020, which will transform how the UK manages the country’s waste and resource economy – more specifically, in the textiles, construction, chemical and metal industries.

Five UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres will be established to meet these goals.

The centre involving engineers from the University of Sheffield aims to reduce the chemical industry’s reliance on fossil resources by creating methods to recover and reuse olefins from domestic waste products and CO₂ emissions.Olefins are the raw materials for 70 per cent of all organic chemical production, used to create synthetic fibres, plastics, solvents and other high value-specialities.

As well as developing new transformative technologies, the centre will work with businesses to improve all aspects of the manufacturing process to reduce their carbon footprint.

Public engagement and policy engagement will be two separate, parallel tasks for the centre. The aim for public engagement is to increase public acceptance of using waste to produce consumer products, which would otherwise be produced from oil; while the aim for policy engagement is to help the government develop the UK’s Chemical Strategy to support the sustainable development of the UK’s chemical industry in the next 20 years. 

The Sheffield Team will play a major role in policy development and engagement with government departments such as DEFRA, BEIS and HM Treasury.

Professor Peter Styring, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the University of Sheffield, said: “At a time of unprecedented change, this is an ideal opportunity for us to help develop new and sustainable manufacturing strategies for the chemicals industry. For too long now we have been relying on a linear approach to manufacturing chemicals in a disposable society. 

“The team is highly impressive in both its breadth and depth, but the main strength is in its innovative vision. The large number of key industries that have signed up to be a part of the centre is testimony to the national and indeed global importance of the vision both environmentally and economically. 

“We have four years to make an initial impact. However, we are aware that the transition will take significantly longer so we are already putting measures in place to ensure its longevity which will ultimately be the key to major success.

“The centre is due to begin on 1 January 2021, but the enthusiasm is such that we are already planning the transition towards its start.”

To access article.

Strategic Partnership with Unilever

In early September Unilever launched their Clean Future programme which aims to eliminate fossil carbon from their Home Care products by 2030. Together with this announcement was the news that confirmed Unilever had started a Strategic Partnership with the Styring Group at the University of Sheffield. Further details can be found in the following links.


Unilever – Reimagining the future of cleaning.

University of Sheffield engineers to help major manufacturer eliminate fossil fuels in its supply chain.

BBC Radio Sheffield. Play from 2h08m.

Business Green – ‘Carbon rainbow’: How Unilever’s pledge to eliminate fossil fuels from cleaning products could catalyse the bioeconomy.

Carbon Dioxide Utilisation -Faraday Discussion 7-9th April 2021, Sheffield

Vodka from air!

This week Air Co. won the prestigious Nova Innovation Prize, as voted for by the delegates at the 8th Conference on Carbon Dioxide as Feedstock for Fuels, Chemistry and Polymers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held online as a Zoom conference. Quite poignantly, the winners’ technology has been used to fight the spread of the virus in New York City. Here is some background to the company, their products and the importance of their interventions in the health of NYC.

Air Co., is an organization that was developed to change the world, by creating the world’s first ever carbon negative products. Utilising ground-breaking, proprietary technology to transform carbon dioxide into the purest, highest quality, and most sustainable alcohol on the planet, Air Co. improves the air we breathe.

With core inputs of only carbon dioxide, water and renewable electricity, Air Co.’s production method actively helps prevent climate change by removing the most abundant greenhouse gas from our planet (CO2) and turning it into ultra-high purity alcohol. A 2,500 square foot pilot distillery was built to produce these products and is located in New York. The company was co-founded by Gregory Constantine and Dr. Stafford Sheehan, both having made the Forbes 30 under 30 list for their separate career accomplishments, while the company’s technology has won awards from NASA, the United Nations, and is a finalist in the Carbon XPrize.

Hand Sanitizer
At Air Co., it’s always been their mission to use technology to change the world for the better, by making goods that do good. It’s at the root of everything they do and the reason they make premium products that reduce carbon from the air. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Co. wanted to help their community combat a global threat. As of last week, they temporarily shifted their entire production efforts to make a carbon-negative hand sanitizer. Sanitizer is 80% ethanol, Air Co.’s technology’s main output, and they are producing as many bottles as possible during this crisis. Air Co. are working closely with organizations in New York City to make sure that every bottle they create is donated to the communities and institutions that need it most.

Further details of the technology and products can be found at the very impressive website at www.aircompany.com

Laboratory manager and research and development scientist vacancy- Carbon8 Systems

Carbon8 Systems has a vacancy for a laboratory manager and research and development scientist for day to day management and organisation Carbon8 Systems laboratory at the Medway Campus of the University of Greenwich.

How to make learning more accessible for students

CO2Chem Video Prize winners Katie and Clare discuss and reflect on their final project at University of York. Read full Times Higher Education article here bit.ly/3d46qJm

POSTPONED – Clean Air Zone for Sheffield – One day conference

In the news – Synthetic jet fuel

A letter published in The Times 3/3/20 describing technologies of capturing and turning CO2 into aviation fuel.

Contributions from Professor Peter Edwards, FRS, Dr Tiancun Xiao, senior research fellow and Dr Benzhen Yao, EPSRC postdoctoral fellow, Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford; Professor Peter Styring, FRSC, director, UK Centre for Carbon Dioxide Utilisation, University of Sheffield.

Severn Trent & CCm Technologies awarded innovation grant to treat wastewater

CCm Technologies in partnership with Severn Trent has been awarded approximately £1 million government funding to explore new sustainable ways to recycle wastewater and convert it into a commercial product. 

The water and waste company has received grant funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Carbon Trust, as part of their Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator programme. 

The project focuses on a new process, developed by CCm Technologies, which uses captured carbon dioxide to stabilise, nitrogen, phosphate and organic chemicals held within waste streams at Severn Trent, turning them into sustainable plant nutrients. This stabilisation process significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions on site and the carbon free heat co-generated in CCm’s proprietary process will be used to reduce energy consumption across the site, so aiding Severn Trent in their drive toward Zero Carbon operations. 

The funding will go towards developing an entirely new solution for treating wastewater in the sewage process. This pioneering approach, in partnership with CCm Technologies, is a world first for the wastewater sector and will substantially reduce the amount energy needed, as well as increasing the quality. 

As part of the collaboration with CCm Technologies, an award-winning cleantech company focused on resource optimisation, there is the potential to develop an enhanced fertiliser product for agricultural and/or horticultural application, potentially creating new commercial opportunities for Severn Trent 

Paul Knuckle, external funding lead at Severn Trent says, “We are really excited about this award from the Carbon Trust and BEIS because it’s a first for Severn Trent and CCm Technologies. We’ve demonstrated how well aligned our wastewater recycling ambition is to the government energy efficiency strategy and how we can support the circular economy with the potential to produce value from waste.” 

Paul added: “Winning this award alongside our collaboration with CCm Technologies is a first step in building a strong innovation partnership and we’re looking forward to working with them. It will be the first trial of the technology at this scale in the UK” 

Professor Peter Hammond, CCm’s Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, commented: ”This is a meaningful breakthrough that will allow our technology to demonstrate the release of significant plant nutrient resources held by Severn Trent and use them to lock captured carbon back into the soil, paving the way for greater sustainable agriculture in the UK.” 

CO2Chem Network January Events – Update

The CO2Chem Network recently held a number of key events which took place at the iconic Sheffield United Football Club, with awards presented by the great England footballer Tony Currie.  


CO2Chem 3rd Annual Status Conference attendees 23 Jan 2020

The four day programme of events took place at Sheffield United Football Club Bramall Lane, Sheffield, UK from 20-23 January 2020.  The CO2Chem Winter School-Exploring Carbon Dioxide Utilisation was held on the first three days and presentations were delivered by leading experts in carbon dioxide utilisation including the CO2Chem Network management board Peter Styring and Katy Armstrong (University of Sheffield), Michael North (University of York), Ben Buckley (Loughborough University), Colin Hills (University of Greenwich) and Peter Hammond (CCm Technologies).  Presentations were also given by members of the Chemical and Biological Engineering department (University of Sheffield), Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (University of York) and industry.

Some of the topics covered included:

  • CO2 mitigation
  • Rise in global energy use
  • UK emissions reduction 
  • Replacing fossil fuels
  • Carbon based fuels
  • Why is hydrogen important to carbon dioxide utilisation 

The 3rd Annual Status Conference was held on the last day with presentations from industry and academia with CO2Chem seedcorn funding recipients presenting their research projects.  

Tony Currie made a surprise appearance to award the CO2Chem Video Prize winners with a signed copy of the de Gruyter Carbon Dioxide Utilisation textbook.  All videos can be viewed on the CO2Chem YouTube channel

The winners of the Video Prize 2019 competition were 12-year old Arnav Sharma from Orpington and Katie Stott and Clare Hayes from the University of York.  A special commendation went to IASS-Potsdam and EBP Communications Team

Peter Styring, Tony Currie, Clare Hayes and Katie Stott
Peter Styring, Arnav Sharma and Tony Currie

Closing thoughts were from Peter Styring.

“We are very grateful to the UKRI for funding almost a decade of activities through the CO2Chem Network, one of the original Grand Challenges in the Physical Sciences. In that time the network has evolved and created impact in academia, industry and policy. However, even though the direct funding has ended we will carry on as CO2Chem under changing funding mechanisms. There is interim funding to the end of 2020 to create a transition to a more focused lobbying structure.

It is clear we need to act now to avert catastrophic climate effects. We do not need more consultations on CCUS, we need tangible technologies and policies to deliver it. We are “passed the point of procrastination”.

We are now looking at various options to sustainably fund activities and we will report back to you once these plans are in place.”