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BP joins TWI to power postgrad engineering centre


BP has joined Cambridge industrial innovator TWI as a founding sponsor of the UK’s pioneering research centre for postgraduate engineering education.

The National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRCTM) is currently under construction in Cambridge.

In this new phase of collaboration with TWI, BP will benefit foremost from its involvement and interaction with the newly-established NSIRC, where it will sponsor PhD students undertaking fundamental research to help underpin its commercial operations.

The company will have direct access to purpose-built, world-class facilities and equipment, together with high-calibre students and staff.

The technical work programme will be broad but will include elements such as understanding and testing the performance limits of materials in oilfield environments, where components can be subjected to high temperature, high pressure, aggressive environment and/or cyclic loading. BP staff will attend NSIRC regularly to provide a supervisory role to students.

John Baxter, group engineering director at BP, said: ‘Improving understanding and driving innovation in the fields of science and engineering which underpin structural integrity, is vital for the oil and gas and many other industries. Through working with TWI-SIRF, and with the world-class specialist facilities and expertise of NSIRC, we expect to be able to address many of the fundamental issues that face our industry every day across the world.”

TWI chief executive, Christoph Wiesner, added: “This is an important step for SIRF, and in welcoming BP to the Foundation we are strengthening vital links with those industries who will benefit most from needs-driven research into structural integrity. We are very pleased to be working alongside BP in this growing venture.”

Importantly, the new partnership between TWI and BP in SIRF will enable the oil and gas company to contribute to defining the overall technical focus of SIRF, which includes NSIRC, as a member of the SIRF Board. It also opens up opportunities for research and innovation to support BP-identified topics aligned with the company’s Facilities Technology Flagship technology development programme.

BP will benefit from closer access to TWI expertise and knowhow, linking with applied research. The partnership builds on existing relationships with the University of Manchester, both a major collaborator with BP through the ICAM initiative and an academic partner with TWI in the delivery of NSIRC.

NSIRC will provide industry-driven academic research and relevant training to the next generation of structural integrity engineers and researchers. Through SIRF, the education centre has already been awarded public funding from the UK’s Regional Growth Fund and from the Higher Educational Funding Council for England, with academic partner Brunel University, to set up and equip the new facilities. BP will provide industrial funding to complement this public funding.