Research facility will explore materials use in energy sector

BP is to establish a $100m international research centre dedicated to advancing the fundamental understanding and use of materials.

According to a statement, the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials (BP-ICAM ) will be modelled on a ‘hub-and-spoke’ structure, with the ‘hub’ located within Manchester University’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

The so-called ‘spokes’ and other founder members are Cambridge University, Imperial College London and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The 10-year investment programme will fund research into advanced materials and is expected to support 25 new academic posts, along with 100 post-graduate researchers and 80 post-doctoral fellows.

Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, said: ‘Advanced materials and coatings will be vital in finding, producing and processing energy safely and efficiently in the years ahead, as energy producers work at unprecedented depths, pressures and temperatures, and as refineries, manufacturing plants and pipeline operators seek ever-better ways to combat corrosion and deploy new materials to improve their operations.’

The BP-ICAM will carry out research into seven primary areas of direct interest to industry, namely: structural materials, smart coatings, functional materials, catalysis, membranes, energy storage and energy harvesting.

The initial focus will concentrate on structural materials, including new metal alloys and composites for deepwater production, and high-pressure/high-temperature reservoirs; smart coatings, for increased protection from the elements; and membranes and other structures, for separation, filtration and purification of oil and gas, water and chemicals in production, refining and biofuels processes and petrochemicals.

‘This should allow us to change the way we build, operate and maintain our equipment; manufacture cleaner and more efficient products; develop imaginative energy sources and then store that energy for when it is needed most; and increase the use of lighter metals and composites for structures and products,’ added Dudley.