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REF2021 was the first REF submission that the University of Chester has made under Engineering. This is, therefore, one of the youngest Units in the UK to become research active in this area.  The Engineering Unit of Assessment is formed from staff from Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electronics & Electrical Engineering in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Chester.

The Unit is structured around the following principal themes: 

  • Bioenergy
  • Low-carbon and carbon-capture technologies
  • Materials science and engineering
  • Robotics and advanced manufacturing
  • Quantum electronics
  • Applied thermodynamics

The University’s targeted research funding has been bolstered by external funders including: Innovate UK, EPSRC, Horizon 2020, MOD and industry.

14 staff were identified as having significant responsibility for research in REF2021, leading to a requirement for 35 outputs to be submitted.

Research outputs submitted to REF2021 are included in the Chemical Engineering Collection. the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Collection and the Mechanical Engineering Collection of ChesterRep, the University of Chester’s online research repository.

The impact of research in this unit was exemplified through the following case studies:

Cryogenic carbon capture from difficult industrial CO2 emitters: Research on cryogenic separation for the removal of CO2 from a gas mixture has involved experimental research and modelling work. The research underpinned the development of the patented A3C (advanced cryogenic carbon capture) process. This process mitigates CO2 emissions from industrial sources that are harder to decarbonise through conventional technologies. The impact of this process is reduction of carbon emissions, helping to meet national and international commitments to tackling climate change, in line with the Government's Clean Growth Strategy.

Smart composites with energy harvesting and sensing (Chester Smart Composite Group): Lightweight composite materials have excellent mechanical properties and their use in industrial sectors contributes to zero-carbon emission targets. In this work, smart composites have been developed where energy harvesting sensors are directly integrated onto the composite substrate using printing techniques. This avoids the use of external sensing devices such as printed circuit boards or batteries, which may be difficult or impossible to apply in harsh environments. They are particularly advantageous wherever sensing or monitoring is necessary in difficult environments where conventional approaches cannot be used. Impact on wind turbine blade structural health monitoring has been demonstrated.  Further innovations have been made on the next generation of thermoplastic composites with highly efficient welding, repair, reuse, and recycling developed for extended life cycles.

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