The north east of England is to benefit from additional investment in green energy development. £5.2 million of funding has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to create a new Doctoral Training centre for renewable energies.
The new centre will be hosted by Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham universities. Alongside the public funding, an additional private industry investment has seen the total funding pot hit around £11 million.
The new centre will be called ReNu and take over 60 PhD students in the coming five years, hosted across the universities. One of the main areas of focus will be distributed renewable energy devices. Around 40 billion interconnected and smart devices, such has phones, FitBits and tablets, will be in operation by 2024, and all will require frequent and ready charging, offering opportunities for sustainable power source development.
New devices are also expected to grow massively in fields such as medical at-home treatment technologies for local monitoring and self-driving electric vehicles. Again, the renewable energy sources will need to be in place to power and charge them up.
ReNu researchers will take these new devices and materials forward to develop solutions that convert energy inputs into usable power at the usage point. This could include automatic recharging solutions. The objective is to create sustainable, commercially viable solutions that would be inexpensive to produce on a mass basis.
One example of this is already being taken forward through the new venture. A specialist paint spray is being researched for spraying on to cars or roofs that would capture solar rays and convert it into energy.
The students will also study innovation and business, with a built-in mini MBA as part of the four-year course, IP training and placement at a partner institution in China.