The Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC) carries out a large number of world-leading, high impact research projects. This site offers a brief description of some our most cutting-edge studies. For more information on each project, please see below.

H2020 GoF4R

The University of Sheffield received a grant of 2 million Euros from the European Commission to conduct research as part of GoF4R (Governance of the interoperability Framework for Rail and Intermodal Mobility) project. The study is funded by the Horizon 2020 Shift2Rail programme. Professor Elaine Toms and Professor Lenny Koh (CO-I) from the Management School, are working with Dr. Jon Paragreen from the Transport Innovation Centre Sheffield, to develop a structure for integrating and sharing data across different transportation operators which will serve to enhance seamless – door to door — mobility services using any form of transportation service. More information about GoF4R can be found at

COSTA/Whitbread Project

Director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre, Prof. Lenny Koh, was commissioned by COSTA to investigate recyclability and disposal route of paper cups. COSTA decided to launch a pioneering recycling scheme after environmental campaigner and prominent chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall raised awareness about the non-recyclability of paper cups used by coffee chains in his show, Hugh’s War on Waste (BBC1).

According to the Guardian, Britons drink approximately 8 million takeaway coffees every day, resulting in roughly 3 billion used paper cups a year. Despite this staggering number, it is estimated that fewer than 1 in 400 cups is recycled. The £100,000 project includes an in-depth investigation of consumer attitudes and behaviours towards paper cups recycling, as well as a lab analysis of the cups’ materials to better assess necessary recycling processes. This project involves Professor Peter Styring, Dr Adrian Solomon and Dan Reed. SCEnAT was used in the mapping of the paper cup recycling chain. A large scale national survey was completed. Lab and pilot test of the paper cups were undertaken. The key finding will be announced in due course.


Professor Lenny Koh, Director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC), School of Management, is a CO-investigator in the £1.1 million Cradle-to-Grave Life Cycle Prediction of Automotive Materials and Systems in Service: Impact of Ageing on Performance (SIMULIFE) project. The study aims to address issues surrounding the aging of materials and associated consequences and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). The project consists of three main steps. First, it hopes to identify the age parameter that represents, on a macroscopic scale, the micro and sub microscopic features, underlying processes such as nucleation and growth of micro defects, and/or physico-chemical transformations. Second, the project will formulate a constitutive equation that can mathematically represent ageing. Third, through experimental examination, the study will help identify conditions that lead to catastrophes such as small perturbation in controlling parameters which lead to large variations of the age parameter. Results obtained through each of this steps will facilitate understandings of the aging process will help improve Jaguar and Land Rover’s performance which will contribute to increasing customer satisfaction.

The project is undertaken in collaboration with Professor Constantinos Soutis, University of Manchester, who acts as the Principle Investigator. Other co-investigators from the University of Sheffield include Professor David Wagg, Departmental Director of Research and Innovation, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Dr. Alma Hodzic, Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Dr. Christophe Pinna, Department Head of Solids and Materials Teaching Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Other project members include co-investigator Philip Withers from the University of Manchester, researchers Saravanan Rajendran, Ying Wang, and Jasmin Stein, and Neil Hopkinson, Director of 3D Printing at Xaar.

Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation (LC3M)

In 2015, The University of Sheffield received a prestigious £10 million grant from the Leverhulme Trust to create the Leverhulme Climate Change Mitigation Centre. Professor Lenny Koh, Director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre, is a Co-Investigator and uses her internationally recognised expertise in supply chain management to contribute to the centre’s research theme “Sustainability & Society” (Theme 4) which investigates the sustainability and potential impacts of enhanced rock weathering. Prof. Koh and her team use hybrid life cycle assessment which analyses issues related to the mining, grinding, transporting and spreading of crushed rocks needed to support enhanced weathering strategies at meaningful scales for carbon capture devised in Theme 1 (Earth Systems Modelling) and Theme 3 (Applied Weathering Science) to enable integrated environmental assessment of the EW supply chain and uncertainty-perturbation scenario analyses. This helps assess the potential to build a global, sustainable, integrated enhanced rock weathering supply chain framework for analyzing and understanding the long-term environmental, social and economic impacts. 

EPSRC SubST Project

Professor Lenny Koh, Director of Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre, School of Management, acts as co-investigator on the ‘Substitution and Sustainability in Functional Materials and Devices’ (SubST) project. The roughly £2.4 million project runs over a five-year period and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The study consists of six parallel projects, with more being developed in collaboration with industry partners throughout the course of the funding period. The objective is to identify alternatives to existing Functional Materials and Devices (FMD) which are less harmful to the environment. All projects use multiscale modelling in device design, materials development and understanding physical properties. In addition, a Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool (SCEnAT) will be utilized on all projects. SCEnAT is coded based on the state-of-the-art methodology in carbon and has been used by leading industry such as TATA, Rolls-Royce and Sheffield Forgemasters International. This comprehensive approach will contribute to establishing holistic and sustainable alternatives to be used in the UK FMD sector.

Lifecycle Assessment of CFRP Aircraft Fuselage

This collaborative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) project between Sheffield, Cambridge and UCL was completed and published in December 2014. It focused on the aeronautical industry and its environmental impact currently accountable for 1-1.5% of CO2 emissions globally but predicted to rise to 5% annually in 2016 due to demand of air travel. This project aimed to reduce emissions by 50% by targeting lighter material (composite) and eco fuel use. The life cycle of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was analysed and this information was then extrapolated to the global fleet.

Sustainability and Substitution in Functional Materials and Devices

This 5 years EPSRC funded research project aims to:
• Develop functional materials and devices that are sustainable
• Substitute critical materials and rare earth materials that are at risk through environmental legislation, geopolitical uncertainty and scarcity
• Understand the life cycle of the materials and devices supply chains
A project within this research investigates Perovskite solar cells and their stability and longevity. The use of oxides has the potential to be ground breaking. Many current devices contain lead which is an unsustainable resource; the new development of functional materials has given the industry potential contenders for replacing these lead based materials sustainably. Several projects are on-going investigating a number of sustainable new materials. Multiple industry partners are involved.

Metrics/Indicators, Methodology and Technology

This Project which is being funded by the ESPRC focuses on life cycle assessment, identifying high energy usage areas and potential interventions. Other indicators of impact such as toxicology and land use also being considered and using metrics to portray and analyse this data. This methodology has been applied to Perovskite solar cells to identify pathways to sustainability. These cells include some materials that are in low quantities. We are moving this modelling technique from lab projects data to real world case studies.
Multiple case studies and companies across the manufacturing industry (including advanced materials, energy and nuclear, agritech and food, and water) are involved.

European SMEs Environmental Sustainability

The EU funded PrESS Project is aimed at studying supply chains of SMEs across the EU in Italy, Poland, Greece and the UK. Using the SCEnAT Tool to map and model different industries supply chains, it will create 20 case studies from this project to help SMEs to decarbonise their supply chains.
This project also extends SCEnAT with new indicators (which extends beyond carbon accounting), benchmarking and life cycle costing capabilities.

Interrogating UK Wheat Supply Chain Sustainability

This EPSRC/IIKE funded project is a collaboration between AREC, Grantham, P3 and SheFF, with a leading industry partner in the food sector. This project aims to map and model the UK wheat supply chain using LCA and I-O analysis, and suggest new indicators for the food eco-system.

Energy Innovation for Deprived Communities

This is a complex and large scale ERDF funded project completed in 2014, which involves a large consortium partnership of 6 local authorities, 6 housing associations, an energy company and the University of Sheffield. It aimed to alleviate fuel poverty, stimulate the energy efficiency supply chain and low carbon economy, and reduce CO2 in the 10 most deprived communities in the Yorkshire and Humber region. A multi-disciplinary team from supply chain management, architecture, civil and structural engineering, computer science and psychology from the University were pulled together to deliver the innovation in live environments.

Composite Bio-Materials LCA

This project examines the environmental impact of new composite bio-materials. It aims to classify the environmental impact of the bio materials, and model the sustainability performance of their supply chains.

Energy Storage LCA

This project links to the EPSRC funded Energy Storage CDT. It aims to examine the environmental impact of battery supply chains, and develop alternative techno-economic model to account for this impact.

Noise Contour Analysis and Sustainable Development of UK Aviation

This project analysed and quantified the noise impact of UK airports, and examined stakeholders’ role in sustainable development of UK aviation.

Lithium-Ion Battery Supply Chain Risk and Resilience: An Automotive Industry Perspective
As part of the low carbon transport network, this White rose funded project analysed the supply chain risk and resilience of lithium-ion battery in the context of an electric vehicle supply chain. A model was proposed to assist organisational decision making in assessing the supply chain risk.

Green Deal

This DECC funded project examined the Green Deal perceptions with residents in Barnsley, working in partnership with the Barnsley Council. Several ‘show homes’ / case studies were created, coupled with survey analysis, concluding the real experience of Green Deal users.

Fuel Poverty

As part of the energy efficiency network, this EPSRC funded project investigates the fuel poverty in England. It involves the adoption of an operational research technique and focus groups.