Sustainable transport production line

August 12, 2020, by Emma Lowry

Midlands hub to drive down C02 emissions in UK transport production

The University of Nottingham is leading a new project to help make UK travel carbon-neutral by 2050 and to eliminate C02 from every stage in both transport manufacturing and logistics supply chains.

Through research and innovation, Trans-Mid aims to reduce logistics emissions by 40 per cent and boost regional chain jobs by 12 per cent. All while demonstrating £785m (GVA impact) by 2035.

The project will see Nottingham, Coventry and Birmingham Universities partner with major transport technology firms and local suppliers to the rail, road and aviation industries.

Together they will develop greener materials and products that are designed, sourced and produced sustainably and locally, alongside new carbon-neutral manufacturing and logistics processes.

Trans-Mid R&D will focus on:

  • Electric drives/power transmission
  • Lightweight materials
  • Electric storage
  • Thermal propulsion
  • Virtual manufacturing/rapid prototyping and testing
  • Automated flexible manufacturing
  • Future transport policy

Nottingham’s Trans-Mid Co-Director, Professor Alasdair Cairns, said, “Decarbonised transport requires not only elimination of greenhouse gases at the ‘tailpipe’, but also a reduction in embedded CO2 in the materials and manufacturing processes and logistics.

“Our approach will ensure all greenhouse gas is accounted from the outset, in turn helping companies to design and make innovative products that are truly sustainable and right first time.

“Trans-Mid will establish the Midlands as a ‘supercluster’ for net zero transport technologies while supporting the UK Government’s commitment to carbon neutrality in the next 30 years.

“It will deliver effective decarbonisation of complete transport supply chains from within the Midlands, minimising C02 across the full product life cycle, through new technologies, businesses and an expanded and upskilled regional workforce to compete globally.”

The consortium will also act as a Centre of Excellence in Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) for zero emissions transport manufacturing; offering consultancy to support firms to innovate in product development and intelligent manufacture and helping the UK government to shape and define new transport policies.

Professor Chris Gerada, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Industrial Strategy, Business Engagement and Impact) and Trans-Mid Co-Director, said, “The proposal brings together top UK universities, innovation assets and world-class companies to work with SMEs to boost the regional economy and help decarbonise transport.

“We are proud to be leading on this initiative as it represents an exciting opportunity for regional businesses to develop next-generation, green products and manufacturing processes through an LCA–led design approach.”

Trans-Mid is one of 17 projects across the UK to receive up to £50,000 in Government funding each to respond to some of the world’s most pressing challenges – from climate change to the production of medicines – while simultaneously driving local economic growth, providing skills training and creating high-value jobs.

Through the second round of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Strength in Places Fund, the project will be able to apply for a further longer-term investment of £10-50m later this year if the early stages of development are successful.

It follows the announcement by the government in June this year of the first wave of the fund, which saw seven projects across the UK benefit from over £400m of government and industry funding to develop their research and innovation projects.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said, “We are backing our innovators and with the support they need to turn great ideas into first-class industries, products and technologies.

“From virtual construction projects to extracting clean heat from disused mines, the pioneering projects we are funding today will help create jobs and boost skills across the UK as we continue to drive forward our economic recovery.”


More information is available from Professor Alasdair Cairns on or Emma Lowry, Media Manager (Engineering)

Notes to editors

Applications for the second wave of the Strength in Places Fund closed in October 2019. The winning projects will be awarded between £10m and £50m and is expected to be announced in spring 2021.

The Strength in Places Fund is a UKRI flagship competitive funding scheme that takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding to support significant local economic growth. The fund supports collaborative bids from local consortia including both businesses and research organisations, with strong engagement from local leadership partners and alignment with local economic plans.

The Strength in Places Fund is delivered by UKRI in partnership with:

The University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world’s top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students – Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the 2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia – part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner – locally and globally.

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