New building gets set to accelerate energy research

17 May 2017 15:26:26.373

Work has started on a new building at the University of Nottingham which will be a centre for world-leading energy research in the UK.

Known as the Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) building, and costing £5.4m to construct, the 2500m2 centre, is being developed by Robert Woodhead Ltd on the University’s Jubilee Campus. 

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When completed it will provide state-of-the-art facilities for research and testing as part of the Energy Research Accelerator initiative.

Research expertise
The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is an Innovate UK funded initiative, which combines the research expertise of the six Midlands Innovation universities and the British Geological Survey (BGS) with the know-how of industry, to deliver a step change in energy innovation. 

The ERA partners are working together to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the UK. ERA is also a key pillar of the government’s Midlands Engine agenda, helping to create new jobs and providing a platform for productivity for the region and the wider UK.

Focal point
Speaking about the importance of the RAD building, Gordon Waddington, Chief Executive of ERA, said: “The new RAD building will act as a focal point for much of the cutting edge research that will be taking place at the University of Nottingham in the Energy Research Accelerator.

"It will house advanced test equipment, and will also be home to many of the UK’s leading academics, who will work together with business to accelerate the introduction of new technologies in the energy sector.”

The RAD building will include laboratory space for research ranging from harvesting and storing wind energy, to the development of new materials for hydrogen storage. In addition, there will be office space for researchers, and a central atrium with breakout spaces where ideas can be discussed and explored.

Novel materials
The equipment installed in the building’s research labs is designed to take novel energy materials and technologies from the test bench into working devices, ranging from gas storage materials and batteries to water-splitting surface and fuel cells.

In addition, an x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy facility will enable researchers to replicate how atoms and molecules interact at pressures close to their normal operating environment.

Andy Long, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engineering at the University of Nottingham, added: “The RAD building is an exciting new facility, and will be a tremendous asset for the Energy Research Accelerator partners. Working with academic and industrial collaborators across the Midlands, the building will support groundbreaking research aimed at meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets and finding solutions to many of the most pressing energy challenges.”

Sustainability standards
Built on the former Dairy Crest site on Triumph Road, the RAD building will be one of the first research centres to combine the rigorous sustainability standards of BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) with the principles of the German Passivhaus system. Passivhaus is based on the creation of a building with excellent insulation and a high level of airtightness, in which air quality is maintained via a whole building mechanical ventilation system.     

David Woodhead, Managing Director of the building contractors, Robert Woodhead Ltd, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the University of Nottingham once again. This campus represents the future, with amazing structures greeting you at every turn. The design of the RAD is striking, but arguably its most innovative features, the Passivhaus and BREEAM standards, won’t actually be seen, as they will be built into the very fabric of the building.”

The architect for the RAD building is Lewis & Hickey, with BWB acting as structural & civil engineers and CPW as services engineer. AECOM are project managers and Turner & Townsend are the cost managers.

The RAD building will also be home to the University’s Energy Innovation and Collaboration team. This provides support to help small and medium sized businesses to innovate through the ERDF funded 'Energy for Business' support project. Visit for more information.

For more information about the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), visit


Notes to editors:

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)
ERA is a key programme within Midlands Innovation – a consortium of research intensive universities (universities of Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick), and the British Geological Survey (BGS), which has the overall aim of harnessing the Midlands’ combined research excellence and industry expertise to play a critical role in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the UK.Via Innovate UK, the government has committed an initial capital investment of £60m, and ERA has secured private sector co-investment of £120m.

ERA’s initial priorities of Geo-Energy Systems, Integrated Energy Systems and Thermal Energy will help deliver the new technologies and behaviours that will open the avenues for its future development and demonstrate the transformative effect ERA can have across the energy spectrum.

The University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World’s Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Midlands Innovation 
Midlands Innovation is a world-class research and innovation partnership, combining the collective excellence of six leading universities in the heart of the UK – Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. It unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development.

Robert Woodhead Ltd
Woodhead Construction (Robert Woodhead Limited) is an award winning construction company that offer distinct specialisms in the Heritage, Education, Improvement and Housing sectors. Committed to Considerate Construction, Woodhead consistently scores above the industry average in the Considerate Constructors Scheme. Woodhead has simple accurate and fast processes that help manage projects effectively. The company works on a number of public and private sector procurement frameworks to offer customers enhanced value, regulatory compliance and quick solutions when it comes to kick starting construction projects. 

Energy for Business
Energy for Business supports SMEs that want to innovate, by forging links between businesses and world-class academics, researchers and graduate talent in the energy field at the University of Nottingham. Delivered by the Energy Innovation and Collaboration team and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), this Low Carbon project offers product innovation, business support and capital funding to SMEs in the D2N2 region.

If you are working on or planning an energy related project please get in touch as we may be able to support you. Contact 0115 74 84969

Story credits

For more information about the construction of the Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) building, email Ashley Roberts, Capital Projects Officer at the University of Nottingham, or tel: 0115 951 3573 
Nick King  

Nick King - Marketing and Communications Manager, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 86727 Location: Coates Building, Faculty of Engineering, University Park Nottingham

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