Professor Toby Peters

Professor Toby Peters

Engineering and Physical Sciences
Professor in Cold Economy

Contact details

An award-winning technology developer (Liquid Air Energy Storage/Highview Power and the Dearman Engine), Toby leads the University's Birmingham Energy Institute’s activity around the Cold Economy and Clean Cooling and Cold-chains (for food and vaccines /pharma) and is recognised as one of the main architects of a growing UK and International understanding and realisation of the need for greater research and activity on clean cooling and cold-chain.

Toby specifically researches whole-system solutions to transition to sustainable cooling and cold-chain in both Developed and Developing Economies. He is co-Director of the Centre for Sustainable Cooling and is leading or collaborating in more than £20M of programmes across UK, Europe and the Developing World. This includes the design, finding and establishment of the first-of the-kind Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) with further Centres in development in other key geographies. He is also a Senior Advisor on Cooling/Cold-chain for Sustainable Energy for All, UNEP's Cool Coalition and the World Bank Group, as well as sits on numerous international advisory boards.


Current Academic Appointments

  • Professor in Cold Economy, University of Birmingham
  • Co-Director, Centre for Sustainable Cooling
  • Visiting Fellow, Dept of Engineering, University of Cambridge
  • Visiting Professor, Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, Heriot-Watt University
  • Visiting Professor, Global Innovation Centre, Kyushu University

Other Appointments

  • Consultant, UNEP
  • STC, World Bank Group
  • Senior Consultant, UNOPS / Sustainable Energy for All

Previous Roles

  • 2017-2020: Senior Research Fellow, Heriot-Watt University
  • 2011–2016: Dearman Engine Company, Founding Director/CEO. Development of the Dearman Liquid Nitrogen Engine for clean cold and power
  • 2004–2013: Highview Power, Co-Founder - Co-inventor Liquid Air Energy Storage
  • 1999–2004: Food Rooms Limited, Founder, Director, Community Owned Retailing and Social Exclusion/Access to Food
  • 1998–2000: Department of Health, Cabinet Office and DETR
  • 1995–1999: Consultant, Business in the Community
  • 1993–1999: Conflict photo-journalist – Balkans, Africa, South America
  • 1987–1996: Strategy, communications, and marketing consultant
  • 1985–1987: Reporter City Recorder/Fleet Street News Agency

Other social projects:

  • 1998: Divine Chocolate, Day Chocolate Company, Ghana/London
  • 1997–2009: Hand in Hand Trust, Peru, Founder Trustee


Professor Peters has built up a globally-focused integrated research programme on "clean cold-chain and cooling" and its role in contributing towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement related Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol simultaneously. His team is leading or collaborating in more than £20M of programmes across UK, Europe, Bangladesh and Africa (Rwanda/Kenya). 

  • Fast-track vaccine cold-chain assessment and design for mass scale COVID-19 vaccination using Bangladesh as a case-study – PI, UKRI
  • Building High-Level Support and National Capacities to enhance Climate and Ozone Protection through Cooling Efficiency – PI, DEFRA,
  • African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES) – PI, DEFRA/ UNEP,
  • Community Cooling Hub (Kenya) – PI, BEIS - UK PACT
  • Sustainable cold-chain systems for UK food resilience – Co-I, UKERC
  • Zero Emission Cold-Chain (ZECC) - Building the Road to Sustainable Cold-Chain Systems for Food Resilience – PI, EPSRC
  • ENOUGH – European food chain supply to reduce GHG emissions by 2050 Co-I, Horizon 2020

Other activities

  • Visiting Fellow, Dept of Engineering, University of Cambridge

  • Visiting Professor, Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, Heriot-Watt University

  • Visiting Professor, Global Innovation Centre, Kyushu University

  • Chair – IFC (World Bank Group) Academic Expert Panel – Stranded Cold of LNG

  • Lead – Cold-chain Working Group, Cool Coalition

  • Steering Committee – UK-India Centre of Excellence in Postharvest Management

  • Technical Advisory Panel, Global Cooling Prize

  • Steering Committee, UNEP Cool Coalition

  • Technical Advisory Committee, Clean Cooling Collective (formerly K-CEP)

  • Global Panel on Access to Cooling, UNOPS - Sustainable Energy for All

Professor Peters also sits on other working groups, is a judge on a number of international competitions incl. IFC TechEmerge, Ashden Awards, CLASP, and is a regular author / contributor and reviewer for policy papers, reports, papers and books on sustainable development, sustainable cooling / cold-chain and Covid-19 vaccine cold-chains. He is the lead author for the Cool Coalitions’ 2021 Cold-chain best practices and status report.


Published papers and significant impact reports - author / contributing author

  • Rural cooling needs assessment towards designing Community Cooling Hubs: Case studies from Maharastra, India – Sustainability, May 2021
  • Towards a Net-zero food cold-chain, Institute of Refrigeration, April 2021
  • Understanding the Cold-Chain Challenge for COVID-19 Vaccination, Centre for Sustainable Cooling, 2020.
  • Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report, UN Environment Programme and International Energy Agency, 2020.
  • Assessment of climate and development benefits of efficient and climate-friendly cooling, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, 2020.
  • Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All, Sustainable Energy for All, 2021, 2020, 2019, (and 2018).
  • A Global Roadmap for sustainable cooling by 2050, World Bank Group (internal report), 2020
  • Promoting Clean and Energy Efficient Cold Chains in India, MP Ensystems, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and University of Birmingham, 2019.
  • Sustainable Cold chain and Food Loss Reduction, MOP31, Ozone Secretariat, 2019 to support the Rome Declaration.

Books / Reports being published / in review

  • Global Cold-chain Status Report, UNEP-led Cool Coalition, in collaboration with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Ozone Secretariat and UNEP OzonAction
  • Energy and cold-chain challenges for COVID-19 mass vaccination in the global south - Applied Energy
  • Cold Chain Management for the Fresh Produce Industry in the Developing World -  CRC Press.
  • Rwandan Agricultural and Vaccine Cold-chain Equipment, Policies, Programmes and Practices - University of Birmingham, UNEP (U4E) and Heriot-Watt University.
  • Rural Cooling Needs Assessment: Towards designing Community Cooling Hubs - CEE, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and University of Birmingham.

Other significant reports

  • Agriculture for Development: Clean Cold Chain in Agriculture, Issue 36, Tropical Agriculture Association, 2019. (Editor)
  • A Cool World Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All, University of Birmingham, 2018.
  • Clean Cold and the Global Goals, University of Birmingham, 2017.
  • Capturing the Waste Cold of LNG, Heriot-Watt University, 2017.
  • India's Third Agricultural Revolution: Doubling farmers' incomes through clean cold chains, University of Birmingham, 2017.
  • Doing Cold Smarter, University of Birmingham, 2015.
  • A Tank of Cold: Cleantech Leapfrog to A More Food Secure World, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2014.
  • Liquid Air Technologies – A guide to the potential, Centre for Low Carbon Futures, University of Birmingham, 2013.

On-line tools published

  • Clean Cooling Landscape Assessment - Launched at COP 24, endorsed by BEIS and Mission Innovation.
  • Cooling for All Needs Assessment - Launched by UNOPS/Sustainable Energy for All, Summer 2020.