Awards3 May 2024

Academy announces Professor Michael Shaver as Research Chair

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced a new cohort of Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships. With projects covering the latest in automotive technologies, the use of legged robots in radioactive environments and new ways to understand brain injuries, these partnerships between academia and industry cover a wide range of engineering research.

Funded by the UK’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the Academy’s Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships scheme has successfully supported over 200 academic appointments and enhanced internationally renowned centres of excellence over the last 35 years.

Professor Michael Shaver, Director of the Henry Royce Institute’s Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub and The University of Manchester’s Sustainable Futures platform, and Professor of Polymer Science has been announced as the Polestar Automotive and Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Sustainable Automotive Polymers.

As Research Chair, Shaver will work with Polestar to develop new sustainable solutions for interior and exterior plastics leading a team of researchers to help define, analyse, optimise and trial materials that are authentically sustainable.

Under Shaver’s leadership, Polestar, the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub and Sustainable Futures at the University of Manchester, form a diverse research team addressing academic and industry challenges in sustainable polymer science.

The collaboration aims to improve the sustainability of the diverse array of automotive plastics through increasing recycled content, developing new carbon-negative polymers and increasing mechanical and chemical recyclability at end-of-life.

The project will critically evaluate sustainability, safety, and scalability to enable translation into Polestar pilots and prototypes, with specific components designed around recycled content, bio-based alternatives, and sustainable multi-materials to lower the carbon footprint of automotive parts towards a greenhouse gas free future for automotive plastics.

On his appointment, Prof Shaver said:

“The opportunity to build from our knowledge of systemic sustainability, bio-derived polymers and recycling by working with an ambitious and authentic electric vehicle manufacturer is exciting. Our work with them has already shown that the challenges are immense but that lessons from other sectors can drive change quickly – which makes this Chair both academically interesting and industrially impactful.”

The Academy’s Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships programme enhances the links between academia and businesses with each of the prestigious five-year positions co-sponsored by an industrial partner. Each awardee will establish a world-leading research group in their engineering field.

Professor Máire O’Neill OBE FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, said:

“When research engineers partner with industry the innovations can be truly transformative. The wide range of research being undertaken by our latest Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellows illustrate this sort of promise and I wish them all the very best.”

More information on the five Research Chairs and eight Senior Research Fellowships can be found on the Academy website.

The next round of RAEng Research Chairs and Senior Research Fellowships will open for applications later in May.

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