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Our research focusses on providing knowledge, insight and innovative technological breakthroughs that enable social justice and equality in the provision of clean air, food, energy and water for people globally, through the efficient use of resources, transformative economies and behaviours, the development of smart cities and the mitigation of the impacts of climate change. 

Aligned with the Government’s GCRF challenge areas and Industrial Strategy ‘Grand Challenges’, our strengths mean we can make a significant impact on the industrial and global societal challenges with our challenge-led, interdisciplinary research. 

Our work in sustainability

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Research expertise

Our challenge-led, interdisciplinary research and innovation in sustainability is underpinned by a number of research groups including:

Advanced Powertrain and Fuels We have particular strengths in improving the efficiency and reducing energy cost of existing engines through developing low temperature combustion processes and their controls and regenerative braking, as well as unique methodologies for the study of fuels and engines.


Assessment of Structures and Materials under Extreme Conditions Thermo-mechanical modelling of metallic, non-metallic and composite structural materials; numerical methods development for solid and structural mechanics applications; experimental methods to support the development and application of advanced material and structural models.

Automotive Our industry-focused expertise is supporting the future development of new transport technologies, helping address the challenges of producing cleaner, more efficient vehicles and fuels along with integrated intelligent transport systems.

Biomedical Engineering Research in the growing multi-disciplinary field of advanced technology as devices, processes and modelling to advance health through improvements in therapy, diagnosis, screening, monitoring and rehabilitation.

Bioprocess and Biopharmaceutical Engineering We pursue research into separation and purification techniques and associated instrument design/operation, to ensure further improvements are made in the speed, through-put, economy, resolution and efficiency of downstream processing

Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST) BCAST is an academic research centre focusing on both fundamental and applied research on solidification of metallic materials.

Brunel Composites Centre Shared research and technology capabilities, specialising in novel composites processing and joining technologies applied to industrial environments.

Brunel Innovation Centre A world-class research and technology centre that sits between the knowledge base and industry.

Circular Food Forum Leads discussions across the “food chain” with the aim to improve resource management, through working with industries and Government to respond to global pressures of growing resource scarcity and food waste.

Circular Metals An interdisciplinary academic team (including macroeconomics, industrial sustainability, business management, artificial intelligence, product design, metallurgical science and materials engineering) and a strong industrial consortium involving the full range of the metals supply chain delivering the transformation of the metals industry.

Design and Manufacturing Developing products, services and manufacturing processes that will deliver economically and environmentally sustainable solutions, based on design principles derived from an understanding of human capabilities and limitations.

Digital Manufacturing Being at the forefront of solutions for building smart machines, we create an operational framework for the digital transformation to Industry 4.0.

Energy Efficient and Sustainable Technologies Thermal systems including renewable systems and their application; Single and two-phase heat transfer processes–enhanced heat transfer; Refrigeration; Heating-cooling and ventilating systems; cooling of electronics; Coatings and nanofluids in thermal applications; Modelling and energy efficiency in thermal systems; Carbon capture systems; Energy storage, renewable hydrogen and fuel cell systems; Energy materials; Energy use in communication systems.

Engineering Management and Sustainability

Equitable Development and Resilience Centred on development and social justice issues, our group continually reflects upon how individual and collective agency can contribute to meaningful change around climate action and sustainability across Global North and South nations.

Experimental Techniques Centre A highly regarded cross-disciplinary characterisation facility, with specialist staff that have expertise from various scientific disciplines, e.g. biology, metallurgy, geology and engineering.

Flood Risk and Resilience Flood event prediction, management, and response; Water, wastewater, and water supply; Critical infrastructure and sector dependencies and interdependencies; Hazard vulnerabilities.

Flood, Coastal and Water Engineering The Flood, Coastal and Water Engineering Group addresses the challenges of water scarcity, aging water infrastructures and flood management in the UK and worldwide. The group also concentrates on providing research solutions for recycling water and offering sustainable water resources for domestic and industrial uses.

Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering Delivering a new understanding of our geo-environment and critical infrastructure in diverse ecosystems, for predicting and preventing catastrophic failure and responding to the need for decarbonisation and energy security.

Global Lives Research conducted in the Centre addresses the challenges facing society, helping to change the lives of people around the world by bringing economic, social and cultural benefits.

Heat Pipe and Thermal Management Thermal management; Energy efficiency development; Emission reduction; Energy recovery; Heat-pipe technology; Heat exchangers; Fluid dynamics.

Institute of Communities and Society The Institute focuses on the social, community, and cultural aspects of pressing contemporary issues including migration and movement, social unrest, intersectional inequalities, and institutionalised poverty.

Institute of Digital Futures Brings together digital science and technology innovation and advancement, aligned with the Grand Challenges of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, thereby enhancing the global citizen’s quality of life.

Institute of Energy Futures We have particular strengths in environmental design in refrigeration, heating and cooling and disruptive energy and fuels bringing together researchers from different disciplines as well as mainstream engineering research.

Institute of Health, Medicine and Environments Our challenge-led work in health and wellbeing focuses on understanding the relationships between biological, social, natural, and built environments and health and wellbeing outcomes.

Institute of Materials and Manufacturing Aims to improve the performance of materials and structures and become the leading international provider of materials and manufacturing research.

Liquid Metal Engineering Hub The Hub's research programme, co-created with industry partners, focuses on the closed-loop recycling of metallic materials as the single greatest challenge and opportunity facing the global manufacturing industry.

Mechanics of Solids and Structures Internationally leading research in the areas of experimental testing and computational modelling of solids and structures.

National Structural Integrity Research Centre Leading the way in cutting-edge research focused on engineering and materials, Cambridge based National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) is embedded within TWI's headquarters. Brunel serves proudly as the lead academic partner in the joint initiative with TWI.

Non-traditional Manufacturing Technologies Development, application, and implementation of non-traditional manufacturing technologies: electro-discharge machining, electrochemical machining, laser technologies, vibration machining of brittle materials, abrasive flow machining, electroforming, diamond machining, ultrasonic machining and many more.

Organ-on-a-Chip The group’s main research focus is on women’s health and developing four main organ-on-a-chip (OOC) models: the breast, vagina, ovary, and placenta.

Pollution Research and Policy Predictive approaches in toxicology, including combined chemical exposures and development of new frameworks for non-animal approaches for predicting toxicity; Endocrine disruptor research with an emphasis on mechanisms of disease and test method development; Pollution monitoring, clean-up technologies and chemical analytics.

Resilient Structures and Construction Materials RIMS research group brings together material scientists and structural engineers to deliver resilient infrastructure (buildings, bridges etc.) made of sustainable, advanced materials to perform under harsh natural environment and human-induced hazards.

Resource Efficient Future Cities Urban energy; Sustainable advanced materials; Energy efficiency in buildings; System integration of energy and infrastructure planning at community/district/city scales.

Robotics and Automation We carry out world-class research in robotics and autonomous systems, exploiting and exploring opportunities to develop innovative solutions for industrial and societal applications.

Social Justice Concepts of social justice and understanding of climate change, health and wellbeing, digitalisation, poverty, conflict, and inequality. Our focus is on a broad social justice agenda that is alert to and critical of inequalities.

South Asia Studies We provide a research base for the development of new South Asia specific programmes and teaching, and bring together scholars from across the University working on South Asia from different disciplinary perspectives.

Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains Energy demand and GHG emissions reduction in all stages of the food chain; optimal ways the food chain can utilise different energy sources and interact with the energy supply system; resource efficiency through intensification of food processing.

Sustainable Plastics SPLaSH group combines the strengths of social scientists in the Department of Social and Political Sciences with colleagues working in the area of plastic pollution from Environmental Sciences, Design, Business & Marketing, and Engineering. We are leading experts on behaviour change, public health protection, resource and waste management, governance aspects and sustainability design.

Two Phase Flow and Heat Transfer Focussing on various aspects of fluid flow and heat transfer, from the nano to the macro scale with applications to industrial thermal systems, aerospace, energy generation, process industries as well as carbon capture and utilisation.

Clean Energy, Sustainable Growth, Circular and Bio Economies