The world has seen an average 68% drop in animal populations since 1970, mostly caused by habitat destruction and climate change. We are studying the intricate relationships between animals, plants and their environments, in order to find practical solutions to protect the world’s precious biodiversity.
Strategic plant conservation is a key component of this goal, as well as being vital to global food security. Our plant scientists are leading the way in collecting information about the wild relatives of domestic crops that could help us breed more resilient plants.
At the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, we are responsible for one of the world’s largest outdoor experiments, where trees are exposed to carbon dioxide at levels expected to be the norm by 2050. We’re examining the effects of this increase and linking up with similar experiments in Australia and the Amazon.
We’re working to reduce toxic chemical pollution too. Through the Centre for Environmental Research and Justice, our experts are investigating ways to use model organisms like daphnia, or water fleas, and powerful computational approaches to understand how harmful different chemicals are in the environment and to human health.
Clean Energy and Transport
It is estimated that 90% of the world's electricity can and should come from renewable sources by 2050.
In order to achieve this, the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) is developing technologies and new ways of working to create the sustainable solutions needed to transition to a zero-carbon energy system.
Many of these innovations can be seen in action at Tyseley Energy Park where our researchers are part of a collaboration working to transform clean energy innovation in waste, energy and low carbon vehicle systems.
Globally, researchers in our Centre for Energy Storage are leading a UK-China collaborative project developing the first commercial demonstration plant that converts surplus wind power into space heating. And, in our Centre for Sustainable Cooling, we are bringing together experts worldwide to meet the rising demand for clean cooling.
Our experts are challenging existing technologies in the transport sector too. The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education developed the hydrogen fuel technology that powers HydroFLEX, the UK’s first mainline-approved hydrogen-powered train, while experts in battery recycling are devising ways of giving used vehicle batteries a second life.