New building gets set to accelerate energy research

Work has started on a new building at the University of Nottingham which will be a centre for world-leading energy research in the UK.

Known as the Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) building, and costing £5.4m to construct, the 2500m2 centre, is being developed by Robert Woodhead Ltd on the University’s Jubilee Campus. When completed it will provide state-of-the-art facilities for research and testing as part of the Energy Research Accelerator initiative.

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is an Innovate UK funded initiative, which combines the research expertise of the six Midlands Innovation universities and the British Geological Survey (BGS) with the know-how of industry, to deliver a step change in energy innovation.

The ERA partners are working together to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the UK. ERA is also a key pillar of the government’s Midlands Engine agenda, helping to create new jobs and providing a platform for productivity for the region and the wider UK.

Speaking about the importance of the RAD building, Gordon Waddington, Chief Executive of ERA, said:

“The new RAD building will act as a focal point for much of the cutting edge research that will be taking place at the University of Nottingham in the Energy Research Accelerator. It will house advanced test equipment, and will also be home to many of the UK’s leading academics, who will work together with business to accelerate the introduction of new technologies in the energy sector.”

The RAD building will include laboratory space for research ranging from harvesting and storing wind energy, to the development of new materials for hydrogen storage. In addition, there will be office space for researchers, and a central atrium with breakout spaces where ideas can be discussed and explored.

The equipment that will be installed in the building’s research labs is designed to take novel energy materials and technologies from the test bench into working devices, ranging from gas storage materials and batteries to water-splitting surface and fuel cells. In addition, an x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy facility will enable researchers to replicate how atoms and molecules interact at pressures close to their normal operating environment.

Andy Long, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engineering at the University of Nottingham, added: “The RAD building is an exciting new facility, and will be a tremendous asset for the Energy Research Accelerator partners. Working with academic and industrial collaborators across the Midlands, the building will support ground breaking research aimed at meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets and finding solutions to many of the most pressing energy challenges.”

Built on the former Dairy Crest site on Triumph Road, the RAD building will be one of the first research centres to combine the rigorous sustainability standards of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) with the principles of the German Passivhaus system.

Passivhaus is based on the creation of a building with excellent insulation and a high level of airtightness, in which air quality is maintained via a whole building mechanical ventilation system.

David Woodhead, Managing Director of the building contractors, Robert Woodhead Ltd, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with the University of Nottingham once again. This campus represents the future, with amazing structures greeting you at every turn. The design of the RAD is striking, but arguably its most innovative features, the Passivhaus and BREEAM standards, won’t actually be seen, as they will be built into the very fabric of the building.”

The architect for the RAD building is Lewis & Hickey, with BWB acting as structural & civil engineers and CPW as services engineer. AECOM are project managers and Turner & Townsend are the cost managers.

The RAD building will also be home to the University’s Energy Innovation and Collaboration team, which helps small and medium sized businesses to innovate through the ERDF funded Energy for Business support project. Visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/energyforbusiness for more information.

For more information about the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), visit www.era.ac.uk