Event summary

Edinburgh Campus

Event details

Heriot-Watt University’s Festival of Research – celebrating research excellence; enhancing research culture; building research capacity.

Prof Mercedes Maroto-Valer – How can we achieve net-zero emissions targets

The UK government has legally committed to a new, net zero emissions target for greenhouse gases by 2050. A net zero target means there is nowhere to hide, and that all emissions have to be abated. Our approach, pioneered by the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS), is delivering innovation to enable global energy transitions in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as transport, industry and heating/cooling. I will discuss the environmental, economic and societal opportunities that now exist to realise large-scale energy transitions.

Prof Phil Greening – Critical energy transitions in the freight sector

Road freight is inherently difficult to decarbonise as it is primarily concerned with moving heavy weights long distances. Electrification (the only feasible pathway to net zero emissions) will introduce new constraints concerning energy and time. These new constraints will ultimately result in a radically different freight system. Our current research is considering the transition from the status quo to a very different future for the transportation of freight by road.

Dr Bing Xu – Flying towards greener skies with sustainable aviation fuels

The aviation sector is growing rapidly but is regarded as the form of transport most difficult to decarbonize. An option to reduce emissions is to develop “drop-in” sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) which could substitute fossil fuels without modifying existing aircraft technology. Our research introduces a new type of SAF which is synthesised from a unique combination of three separate technologies to achieve high levels of emission reduction. Our policy and public engagement work provides a holistic view on key barriers that affect the commercial development, deployment and consumption of SAFs, and discusses how policy can be shaped to support future SAF production.

'Pioneering Research' Strand

From discovery to application, our pioneering research delivers impact, helping to transform society, stimulate economic growth, and change lives. Find out more about the award-winning, pioneering research being undertaken at Heriot-Watt University and why it is attracting academic and innovation interest worldwide.


Research Futures Academy