Materials Science Techer CPD Workshop & Lecture

Event date
Event time
13:30 - 17:30
16 Parks Road
Event cost
Target audience
Age range
All ages
Required Book here

The Department of Materials Outreach Team will be running a Materials Science CPD workshop for Teachers preceding our biennial Hirsch Lecture. This year's lecture will be given by Professor Anthony J. Ryan OBE, of the University of Sheffield.

There will be light refreshments provided, and we would like to use this event as an opportunity for science teachers to visit and enjoy the workshop and/or the lecture and hospitality.

The workshop aims to showcase latest developments in Materials Science and make available resources we have developed for hands-on experiments in schools. These activities are designed to support the teaching of Materials Science and raise awareness of this discipline as an option for your science students to pursue at tertiary education. We will also provide an overview of our outreach programme and our applications and admissions process with plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

The workshop will take place from 1:30pm-4:00pm and will include refreshment breaks. The lecture will take place from 4:30pm-5:30pm and will be followed by a drinks reception.

To attend the afternoon workshop and/or the lecture, please complete the online registration form linked on this page. The deadline for registration is 15th December 2023.

Details of the 2024 Hirsch Lecture are below:

'Neofossils: bio-based plastics to sequester CO2' - Professor Anthony J. Ryan OBE

We have recently been focussed on a circular economy for polymers, but came to the conclusion that we need to turn the problem on its head. Make more single-use plastic, but using C fixed by photosynthesis taken from the atmosphere this year, not millennia ago. Neo-carbon, not fossil-carbon, to make into plastic and keep it safe - through incorporation in our infrastructure or through curated burial.

Bio-based plastics from agricultural waste become sustainable when produced using renewable energy, not the current mix of >70% fossil energy. Life cycle assessment can identify the tipping point, as the energy system defossilises, when making durable, bio-based plastics makes sense. COP27 aimed to 'keep 1.5 oC alive' by removing 12 billion tonnes of CO2 per year (>25% of current emissions), yet there are no scalable technologies to do this.

Plastics consumption could be a good thing, maintaining the environmental benefits of plastic (eg reduced food waste). The petrochemicals industry could continue to benefit from its capital assets, leaving the oil underground, with a new income stream from carbon sequestration. We could use durable (ie nondegradable) bioplastics to sequester carbon, taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, and we could bury that plastic. In fact, if we converted all the current 300 million tonnes of annual plastic production to non-degradable, fossil-identical, bioplastics, using 100% renewable energy and agricultural waste as the feedstock, we would be able to remove 1 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year.

I will present the evidence to support a new plastics economy to deliver neofossils and remove CO2 from the atmosphere.