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EPSRC invests in UK/China research partnerships for sustainable materials

04 January, 2016
Six new research projects, to improve the sustainability of infrastructure development in the UK and China, are to receive over £3 million in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The funding follows on from a visit to the UK earlier this year by Yang Wei, President of The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) was established in 1986. It is an institution directly under the jurisdiction of the State Council. Since its establishment, NSFC has comprehensively introduced and implemented a rigorous and objective merit-review system to fulfil its mission of supporting basic research, fostering talented researchers, developing international cooperation and promoting socioeconomic development.


Alongside with the continuously increasing investment in basic research by the government, NSFC’s annual budget has increased from 80 million RMB in 1986 to 16.8 billion RMB in 2013. Funding is awarded to over 1,500 host institutions and to both individuals and groups of investigators. NSFC encourages international cooperation and exchange in basic research. It has signed 70 Cooperative Agreements or Memorandums of Understanding in 35 countries and regions.


The new projects will involve academics from nine UK universities which will partner with nine leading institutions in China. They will explore:

  • how to develop intelligent coatings for windows to improve energy efficiency;

  • the development of magnesia-based cements and concrete products for future energy infrastructure applications;

  • how to improve the development of new nitride materials for the next generation of UV emitters that can be used for water purification and environmental protection;

  • whether industrial wastes can safely replace natural raw materials in the cement kiln;

  • designs for low-CO2 alkali-activated concretes that are more durable and eco-efficient;

  • development of multi-functional aggregates that will enable concrete to conduct electricity and reduce environmental pollution

Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark, said: “High quality science and innovation is central to addressing the challenge of meeting the demand for higher living standards from an increasing global population, with limited natural resources that we need to protect. Science knows no boundaries, which is why we are investing £3 million in six collaborative projects between some of the leading institutions in the UK and China that will help find new ways to address joint concerns.”


NSFC Vice President Liu Congqiang commented: “Collaboration in science and research is essential if the world is to solve the sustainability challenges presented by growing populations, energy demand and climate change. NSFC is ready to join hands with EPSRC to facilitate such collaboration between Chinese and UK researchers to attain solutions that could improve products, health and wellbeing of our citizens.”


Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “These collaborative EPSRC and NSFC projects have emerged as a result of a joint call in 2013 following the Global Grand Challenges Summit of the same year. Developing advanced materials and improving sustainability in infrastructure will help both the UK and China address environmental, economic and resource challenges that face both countries and the rest of the world.”

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