BP will establish a $100 million international research center, known as the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials, or BP-ICAM, to lead research aimed at advancing the fundamental understanding and use of materials across a variety of energy and industrial applications. The BP-ICAM will be modeled on a “hub and spoke” structure, with the “hub” located within the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, which has core strengths in materials, engineering, characterization and collaborative working. The “spokes” and other founding members are the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The 10-year investment program 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.
“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,” said Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive. “Manchester has world-leading capabilities and facilities in materials and was chosen after a global search to act as the ‘hub’ of the center, working with other world-class university departments. We look forward to deepening further the very productive partnership that already exists between our professionals in BP and the academic team at Manchester.”
The BP-ICAM will carry out research into seven primary areas of direct interest to industry – structural materials, smart coatings, functional materials, catalysis, membranes, energy storage and energy harvesting – with the initial focus on:
- Structural materials, such as new metal alloys and composites for deepwater production, and high-pressure, high-temperature reservoirs;
- Smart coatings, for increased protection from the elements and improving a structure’s usable life, protecting pipelines and offshore platforms from corrosion; 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,” Mr Dudley added.
The universities will have academic freedom to publish fundamental science resulting from the BP-ICAM’s work, while commercial agreements will cover specific technological applications of the work.