Imperial College London and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany have launched a partnership to develop new technologies to tackle the combined threats of global pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.
The Imperial – TUM Zero Pollution Network will bring together scientists, industry, governments and other partners to develop and translate solutions to some of the greatest sustainability challenges.
The most innovative ideas and technologies that offer disruptive impact will be funded and supported through the network.
The partnership will see academics and students from two of the world’s top universities working together on joint research and education programmes, and spending time in each institute’s laboratories.
There will be an initial research focus on electrochemistry and energy storage technologies, sustainable manufacturing, and sustainable future mobility – with further themes developed over the next 2 years.
The new network will exploit the strong research collaborations between the organisations including a collaborative PhD programme. Imperial and TUM will also work together to support student entrepreneurs to develop businesses.
The aim of this new network is to enable society to shift towards a zero pollution economy where the environmental and health impacts of global pollution are mitigated at source – designing technology interventions in a holistically sustainable framework.
For example, this approach considers the technology lifecycle – from the way raw materials are sourced, to how they are used in industry and consumed by society, and ultimately disposed or re-used.
Imperial’s President Hugh Brady said: “The world is facing substantial threats from global pollution. It is destroying our climate and environment and impacting the health of millions of people every year. We urgently need to find new technologies and solutions to the pollution crisis and inspire fundamental changes in the way society and industry produces and consumes. This will require bold and ambitious ideas and a collaborative approach across borders and between sectors. This Network will bring together some of the leading minds in science, industry, government and society to shape and develop innovative ideas and technologies. Imperial's vision is to realise a sustainable, zero pollution future. We have the power to help make that a reality by accelerating our research to benefit society. The Technical University of Munich is one of the world’s top universities and one of Imperial’s closest collaborators and we look forward to working with them on this major challenge.”
TUM’s President Thomas F. Hofmann emphasised: “The scale and the time frame of the climate challenge demands more from us. We can do more, and we will do more by putting our TUM Sustainable Futures Strategy 2030 into practice and further targeting greener solutions in trusted international partnerships. Our flagship collaboration with Imperial College London will go a long way helping to tackle the daunting global challenges like the climate crisis. Students and scientists of Imperial and TUM are called to co-create sustainable circular economy approaches and zero pollution solutions to ensure that world will remain a liveable place in future. And I am positive that we can make an impact together.”
Transition to Zero Pollution
In 2020 Imperial launched its Transition to Zero Pollution initiative which aims to inspire fundamental changes in areas such as the way resource is exploited, how we produce food and energy, and will help mitigate the impact of air pollution on people's health.
Imperial’s Vice Provost for Research and Enterprise Professor Mary Ryan – who leads the College’s Transition to Zero Pollution initiative – said: “The scale of the challenge is enormous. Human-made pollution is visible everywhere from air pollution in our cities to plastics in the deepest parts of our oceans.
“We now need to start considering pollution in all its forms, including carbon dioxide, and take a systems-thinking approach to the way we do research and translate technologies.
“We need a transdisciplinary approach and scientists, engineers, clinicians, and economists must work together to create innovative technologies and policies for a rapid transition to clean technologies.”
Imperial and TUM
Imperial and TUM have been close collaborators for decades. In the past five years academics from the two universities have co-authored 654 research publications, an increase of 90%. Imperial and TUM also have 63 Joint Research Projects and 14 High-Impact Collaborative PhD projects. Collaboration includes research into wind turbines, solar energy and clean energy industrial processes. In 2018, Imperial and TUM formed a strategic partnership in education, research and innovation.