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BP creates global materials centre

Today, the oil-and-gas giant BP unveiled a US$100-million research centre aimed at developing advanced materials. It will be centred around the University of Manchester, UK, with smaller branches at Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The new centre will create 25 academic posts along with 100 postgraduate research positions and 80 postdoctoral positions. It will look at research issues important to BP, such as developing metal alloys that can work in deep-water drilling and membranes for purification of oil, gas, water and biofuels (here’s a summary from the University of Manchester website (PDF)).

By coincidence, this week’s Nature has an article about another big centre at Manchester — a new graphene research institute that is being funded to the tune of £38 million ($59 million). It’s all part of the government’s broader agenda to use universities to help drive economic growth. It’s worth noting that BP–Manchester collaborations are nothing new: since at least 2010, BP has collaborated with the university.

As the BP announcement shows, corporations are interested too. As corporate research-and-development labs wither, many are turning to campuses to fill their research needs.

Image: BP p.l.c.


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