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The bulk materials in 2050 with Absolute Zero emissions

The bulk materials in 2050 with Absolute Zero emissions

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Professor Julian Allwood explores potential growth opportunities in the Foundation Industries as a result of zero-emission sustainability

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The 'Blue skies, green future' webinar series presents ideas and innovation to spark discussion on the topic of transformation and sustainability within the foundation industries.

The bulk materials in 2050 with Absolute Zero emissions

Most discussion of mitigation to date has focused on new energy infrastructure technologies - in particular carbon capture and storage, hydrogen as an energy vector and options for removing emissions from the atmosphere. However, deployment rates are so slow that it is now certain that none of these ideas will be significant by 2030, and they are very unlikely to be contributing at significant scale for subsequent emissions reduction target dates. The critical consequence for the supply-chains of the foundation industries, is that we must expect to be operating in 2050 with no cement and no blast-furnace steel, with steel and glass supplied only by recycling, and with plastics made only in electric processes.

Realistically, this means a drastic reduction in the supply of bulk materials. In facing up to this legally mandated reduction, the talk will aim to anticipate the resulting growth opportunities - for new businesses that optimise material use, electrify the whole material supply chain, extend material value over the longest feasible time, and lead to the highest quality all-electric processing for end-of-life materials.

Speaker profile

Julian Allwood is Professor of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Cambridge. He worked for 10 years for Alcoa on flat rolling, before academic positions at Imperial College and Cambridge. His research group develops new manufacturing technologies for metals and strategies to mitigate climate change. From 2009-13 he held an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship, to explore Material Efficiency as a climate mitigation strategy – delivering material services with less new material. This led to publication in 2012 of the book “Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open” which can be read online at www.withbotheyesopen.com and was listed by Bill Gates as “one of the best six books I read in 2015.”

Julian was a Lead Author of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with a focus on mitigating industrial emissions. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Materials, Minerals and Mining, a Fellow of the International Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP) and served as chairman of its metal forming section, a member of the UK’s Energy Research Partnership and for ten years was joint editor-in-chief of the Journal of Materials Processing Technology. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2017 and in 2021 was awarded the triennial Japan Society for Technology of Plasticity International Prize for Research and Development in Precision Forging.

From 2019-24 he is director of UK FIRES – a £5m industry and multi-university programme aiming to explore all aspects of Industrial Strategy compatible with delivering zero emissions by 2050. ‘Absolute Zero’, the first publication of UK FIRES attracted widespread attention including a full debate in the House of Lords in Feb 2020, and has led to a string of other reports, research and impact.

About the Network

The TFI Network aims to assist the foundation industries to remain competitive whilst simultaneously facing challenges from environmental legislation and the drive towards net-zero carbon 2050. Launched in February 2021, the core aim of TFI Network+ is to co-create with the Foundation Industries new science and technology that can transform their sustainability and performance by coordinating and channelling a wide range of expertise throughout UK academia in themes such as energy efficiency, circular economy, new generation processes and manufacturing informatics.

TFI Network is funded by Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. The Network offers small project grants to support research, transformation and collaboration across the six sectors of the foundation industries. Becoming a member of the Network allows you to advertise your expertise or business requirements to other members, identify other members who may have similar research areas for collaboration and submit applications for small project grants. Visit https://tfinetworkplus.org/ to become a member.

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