Why it matters
In the drive to achieve net zero, it is fundamentally important to keep pushing the boundaries in search of clean energy sources.
The most pressing climate challenges of our time will be tackled by accelerating net-zero targets and taking green technologies to the next level. We are driving research into hydrogen production, storage, deployment and utilisation, seeking cleaner and more efficient energy systems with applications across various sectors.
In parallel, the education and training of a skilled workforce will bolster the global research community's capacity to tackle energy transition challenges, and to propel the hydrogen economy forward to achieve ambitious targets.
We are providing a valuable platform for researchers and industry to collaborate on R&D, and find the actionable solutions and viable alternatives needed to achieve net zero.
Collaborate to innovate
With the creation of iNetZ+, our emerging Global Research Institute for Net Zero and Beyond, co-academic leads Professors Peter Cummings and Edward Owens, are driving collaboration across our academic community with private and public sector institutions, stakeholders and industry.
For a decade and a half, a major focus of Professor Cummings’ internationally recognised research has been on the design of capacitive energy storage devices using methods of computational materials modelling. These same methods are applicable to many of the outstanding problems in attaining net zero - for example, in a partnership with the University of Houston, these methods will be used to design membranes to protect electrodes from ions, this enabling the development of electrolysers to convert seawater directly to hydrogen. The University of Houston/Heriot-Watt University Collaboratory for Clean Energy is focused on a large R&D effort in facilitating the hydrogen economy, particularly in the UK and USA. However, Heriot-Watt's campuses in Dubai and Malaysia broaden the impact, to the Middle East and Southeast Asia - all potential key players in the global hydrogen market.
Energy storage is a key component in the drive to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and, together with Professor Raffaella Ocone OBE, he is co-leading the Hydrogen Economy theme, within iNetZ+, focused on all aspects of green hydrogen production and its use as a power source for industry, transport and domestic use, as well as a method for storing energy.
New ground is continually being broken in critical areas including decarbonising transport, developing sustainable and circular materials, and providing smart, renewable energy solutions. Through novel research and innovations, this is already helping communities, governments and partners find long-lasting, sustainable solutions.
Professor Cummings joined Heriot-Watt University in 2022 as a Bicentennial Professor. A highly cited international researcher, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering of the USA, one of the highest professional honours accorded an engineer, and named as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, both in 2023. He is also a fellow of four other professional societies in the US and the UK.
He is an internationally recognised scholar in the field of molecular modelling and computational materials science and the recipient of many US national and international awards, recognising his contributions in research and service to the engineering community.
He has published over 460 referenced research papers, has presented over 220 invited talks and 230 invited seminars at universities, government, and industrial research laboratories, internationally. He has led or co-led over $250M of successful research grants within the US.
Further information can be found in Prof. Cummings' profile on our Research Portal.