EPSRC invests in UK/China research partnerships for sustainable materials for infrastructures

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Six new research projects, to improve the sustainability of infrastructure development in the UK and China, are to receive over £3 million in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The funding follows on from a visit to the UK earlier this year by NSFC President Yang Wei.

The projects will involve academics from nine UK universities which will partner with nine leading institutions in China.

They will explore:

  • how to develop intelligent coatings for windows to improve energy efficiency;
  • the development of magnesia-based cements and concrete products for future energy infrastructure applications;
  • how to improve the development of new nitride materials for the next generation of UV emitters that can be used for water purification and environmental protection;
  • whether industrial wastes can safely replace natural raw materials in the cement kiln;
  • designs for low-CO2 alkali-activated concretes that are more durable and eco-efficient;
  • development of multi-functional aggregates that will enable concrete to conduct electricity and reduce environmental pollution

Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark, said: High quality science and innovation is central to addressing the challenge of meeting the demand for higher living standards from an increasing global population, with limited natural resources that we need to protect.

Science knows no boundaries, which is why we are investing £3 million in six collaborative projects between some of the leading institutions in the UK and China that will help find new ways to address joint concerns.

NSFC Vice President Liu Congqiang said: Collaboration in science and research is essential if the world is to solve the sustainability challenges presented by growing populations, energy demand and climate change. NSFC is ready to join hands with EPSRC to facilitate such collaboration between Chinese and UK researchers to attain solutions that could improve products, health and wellbeing of our citizens.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said: These collaborative EPSRC and NSFC projects have emerged as a result of a joint call in 2013 following the Global Grand Challenges Summit of the same year. Developing advanced materials and improving sustainability in infrastructure will help both the UK and China address environmental, economic and resource challenges that face both countries and the rest of the world.

Notes for Editors:

Funded grants from the UK/China research partnerships for sustainable materials for infrastructures

Project Title and Grant Number Amount Principal Investigator and UK Universities - lead first Chinese Collaborating Universities

MagMats: Magnesia-bearing construction materials for future energy infrastructure



Prof Al-Tabbaa, University of Cambridge

UCL (University College London)

Qian Jueshi,

Chongqing University

Nanjing Tech University

Advanced III-nitride materials for next-generation UV emitters used in water purification, environmental protection and local network communication



Professor Wang, University of Sheffield

University of Strathclyde,

Imperial College London

Zhang Rong, Nanjing University

Rational design of low-CO2 alkali-activated concretes for eco-efficiency and durability



Professor Provis, University of Sheffield

Queen's University of Belfast,

University of Leeds

Chen Huisu, Southeast University

Hohai University

Hunan University of Technology

Materials 5R by Industrial Symbiosis in the cement industry - Understanding metabolism of toxic metals in co-processing.



Dr Stegemann, UCL

Zhang Wensheng, China Building Materials Academy

South China University of Technology

Intelligent Coatings for Energy-Efficient Glazing (ICE Glazing)



Professor Sankar, UCL

Zhao Xiujian, Wuhan University of Technology

Multi-functional aggregates for enhanced concrete performance and its application



Professor Macphee, University of Aberdeen

University of Dundee

Wang Fazhou, Wuhan University of Technology,

Chongqing University

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.

The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) was established on 14 February 1986. It is an institution directly under the jurisdiction of the State Council. Since its establishment, NSFC has comprehensively introduced and implemented a rigorous and objective merit-review system to fulfil its mission of supporting basic research, fostering talented researchers, developing international cooperation and promoting socioeconomic development.

Alongside with the continuously increasing investment in basic research by the government, NSFC's annual budget has increased from 80 million RMB in 1986 to 16.8 billion RMB in 2013. Funding is awarded to over 1,500 host institutions and to both individuals and groups of investigators. NSFC encourages international cooperation and exchange in basic research. It has signed 70 Cooperative Agreements or Memorandums of Understanding in 35 countries and regions.

The Global Grand Challenges Summit 2013 was organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering in partnership with the national academies of the US and China. It provided a global platform for the world’s leading thinkers and the next generation of engineers to explore collaborative approaches needed to tackle common global challenges.

The audience of the two-day event heard from panels of leading experts in six different sessions covering the themes of sustainability, health, education, enriching life, technology and growth and resilience.

Reference: PN 86-14