Pioneering ‘transport of the future’ centre puts University of Bath on the road to world-class innovation

June 10, 2022

The University of Bath’s world-leading automotive research centre is now up and running following the handover of the building from its contractor.

The £70m, 11,300 sq m Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), pictured, on the Bristol & Bath Science Park will now ramps up its operations as a global centre of excellence for research and innovation to supports the transport industry in the transition to net zero. 

It will now begin large-scale commercial collaborations and ground-breaking research projects, developing future generations of clean and efficient propulsion systems.

The centre, which has been funded by the University of Bath, the government’s Research England and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, builds on four decades of leading-edge research at the university into automotive technology.

It houses state-of-the-art powertrain, propulsion and both vehicle and component-level research platforms fitted out with cutting-edge, specialist equipment capable of serving the whole transport sector, from automotive and aviation to marine, off-highway and heavy-duty vehicles.

The opening follows on from the recent announcement that IAAPS will set up a green hydrogen manufacturing and testing plant – the first of its kind in the South West- next spring.

The facility will not only decarbonise the energy used on site by reducing the whole building carbon footprint but also form the foundation of a regional hydrogen and renewable transport research hub.

Green hydrogen is made by splitting water by electrolysis using renewable power into hydrogen and oxygen.

The oxygen can be released into the atmosphere with no negative impact while the hydrogen can be used for clean heat and power – making it an ideal fuel to help meet the government’s net zero targets.  

IAAPS executive director Prof Gary Hawley said: “We are thrilled to have reached this major milestone, the result of hard work and tireless dedication by a lot of people and stakeholders.

“I would like to thank all the team who have put so much effort into the completion of our new facility, and of course also our partners, customers and associates who have supported us along the way.

“This is an exciting time to be involved in advanced propulsion research, and we look forward to many fruitful collaborations with industry partners and innovators as we embark on the next stage in the expansion of IAAPS.”

The two-storey IAAPS building was due to open last year but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Its state-of-the-art equipment and space will allow detailed systems-level research to be conducted including whole vehicle analysis under real-world driving conditions.

Industry-backed projects will take into account the ever-changing nature of mobility and travel in the UK, particularly with a transition to low carbon transportation as part of the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

By working with industry partners – not all of them from the automotive sector – the centre is expected to support 1,900 high-value jobs. 

It will also stimulate more than £67m in additional automotive research investment by around 2025, creating an additional turnover of £800m for the UK automotive sector. When fully operational the centre itself will create more than 100 jobs on-site.


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