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Essex partners with Heathrow to focus on sustainable aviation

  • Date

    Fri 5 Apr 19

Heathrow Airport

The University of Essex has become a partner of Heathrow Airport’s new Centre of Excellence which is focusing on sustainable aviation.

The aim of the Centre is for university partners to work with Heathrow on new coordinated research on sustainable aviation challenges – exploring topics such as carbon and net zero air travel alongside other environmental challenges like noise, air quality and waste.

It will be a unique hub offering new opportunities to research, develop and test ideas, using the airport as an innovative living laboratory test bed for collaboration with academics and entrepreneurs working on shared research and innovation challenges to encourage sustainability in aviation.

As part of the Centre is Heathrow’s Innovation Prize, to be awarded to winning ideas that will help the airport reduce its carbon emissions as it explores solutions that will address climate change.

Air pollution experts and computer scientists at Essex are joining forces with Gary Crooks from Energy Crops who has won a £20,000 Innovation Prize to run a trial at Heathrow, where they will plant 1,000 willow and monitor its growth and effects on noise abatement and air quality.

Joining Essex as a university partner at the Centre are Brunel University, Cranfield University and Royal Holloway. They will be invited to pitch their ideas for funding starting this summer, before initiating the successful projects later this year.

The new Innovation Prize is open to entrepreneurial ideas on how to reduce carbon impacts through one of three ways:

  • Sustainable surface transport: Enabling travel to and from the airport with low or zero emissions;
  • Preparing for sustainable flight: Expediting the arrival of a fossil-fuel free flight, including through the introduction of new hybrid and electric aircraft; and
  • Delivering negative emissions: Finding new, practical ways to capture and use carbon at or near the airport.

Robert Walker, Head of Business Engagement at the University of Essex: “At Essex we strive to ensure our world-leading academic research has a positive impact on society, the economy and the environment. The opportunity to work with Heathrow on challenging projects through their innovation test bed offers an exciting environment for our researchers to push the boundaries of their own research and we are excited to be part of the Centre.”

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability, said: “Climate change is the greatest threat facing our generation and it is imperative we take meaningful steps to address our impacts – and we need to make them quickly. Through the Centre of Excellence, and by partnering with top scientists we will continue to think radically about sustainability, translate ideas into action at Heathrow, and across our industry.”