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Swansea University awarded Queen’s anniversary prize for revolutionary renewable energy technology

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Swansea University has been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its Materials Science and Engineering research that is leading a revolution in renewable energy technologies, particularly solar electricity and heat generation and storage. 

The Prize was presented to Swansea University’s Chancellor Professor Dame Jean Thomas, Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle and head of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor Dave Worsley by HRH The Prince of Wales at a reception at St James’s Palace, London

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are awarded every two years and recognise the work carried out by UK universities and colleges which showcases quality and innovation and delivers real benefit to the wider world through education and training.

The University has been awarded the prize for the work of SPECIFIC, an academic and industrial consortium established in 2011 to research the development of efficient low-cost photovoltaic technologies that convert solar energy into electricity.

In the ten years since SPECIFIC was founded, its achievements include the world’s first dye-sensitised solar cell deposited directly onto a steel substrate which is a critical enabler to large-scale manufacture of building-integrated photovoltaics. It has reduced the time to provide low-cost solution processable photovoltaics from 30 minutes to 2.5 seconds. New methods that reduce the manufacturing time for dye-sensitive solar cells from several hours to less than two minutes.

The consortium has the UK’s first energy positive classroom demonstrating that solar energy can power and heat buildings. It collaborates on projects with 211 businesses and 128 research and academic partners in 17 countries. This includes six spin out companies creating jobs and supporting an innovative pipeline for steel building materials.

It is also working with two local housing associations to develop 18 low carbon homes for social housing tenants.

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SPECIFIC is also applying technology around the world by building solar powered buildings in India and working with Mexican textile screen printers to produce solar modules on flexible materials. In South Africa, it is using photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies to dewater sludge at a treatment plant and is also creating solar powered classrooms in Zambia.

The Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, Professor Paul Boyle said: “We are delighted that Swansea University is a recipient of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, a highly prestigious national honour that recognises the exceptional work of our researchers in materials science and engineering. This award acknowledges the power of our local, national and international partnerships, as we work together to transform the construction industry, tackle fuel poverty and drive Wales and the world’s transition towards net zero.”

Professor Dave Worsley, Head of Materials Science and Engineering said: “This is an incredible honour and a true recognition of the incredible university and industry partnership between Swansea and Tata which is driving local, national and international decarbonisation opportunities and ensuring that as we transition from fossil fuels to renewables no one is left behind. This prize is for the teams of researchers, scientists, engineers and business professionals who have worked together so well for the last decade and are poised to support the just transition and accelerate our journey to a net zero Wales and then a net zero world.”

Sustainability spokesman for Tata Steel in the UK, Martin Brunnock, said: “The work which SPECIFIC is doing on new coatings for steel and active buildings is central to Tata Steel’s product development and construction strategy. 

“It is really exciting to see how the active buildings we have delivered together are working in the UK and India and the recognition through this Queen’s Anniversary Prize is testament to the long standing research, training and skills work pioneered and led by the Materials Department at Swansea. We very much look forward to the next stage of our net zero journey together.”

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(Lead image: Swansea University)

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Transport for Wales

New trains for Wales and Borders services go on show

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Brand new trains that aim to transform services across Wales and the English borders have been on show today at Chester railway station.

Assembled by CAF at their factory in Newport, the first Class 197 train with its ‘Made in Wales’ tag was revealed to the public today (Friday 1 July), offering a taste of what’s to come for customers in the next few months.

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TfW are spending £800 million on new trains throughout their network and the Class 197 will be the first of the brand-new stock to enter service in North Wales before the end of this year.

Providing an increase in capacity, reduced emissions and enhanced comfort onboard, these trains will allow TfW to run faster and more frequent services to key routes including services in South West Wales – Manchester to Milford Haven, Cardiff to Fishguard and Swansea to Pembroke Dock.

Offering leather seats, modern air conditioning systems, wider doors and customer information screens, the new trains will transform the customer experience. They’ve also been fitted with electronic charging points and disability features for those with limited mobility.

The Deputy Minister for Climate Change with responsibility for Transport, Lee Waters said: “I am pleased to welcome the new Class 197 trains to the rail network. These new vehicles represent a real transformational improvement on the trains that they will be replacing, providing comfortable and frequent services, encouraging people to leave their cars behind and move onto a more sustainable form of transport.”

Alexia Course, TfW’s Director of Transport Operations, said: “At Transport for Wales we’re continually moving forward with our transformational plans to improve public transport for the people of Wales and the borders.

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“The Class 197s on show at Chester railway station today will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network, and when they enter service, they will enable us to run more services and carry more customers in comfort.

“The construction of our new trains has been four years in the making, and customers and colleagues are incredibly excited to welcome passengers onto them from later this year.

“It’s also important to recognise that these trains have been made in Wales at the CAF factory in Newport and the building of them has provided jobs and supported the local economy”.

Richard Garner, UK Director CAF said: “CAF is thrilled that the first of our Class 197 trains for the Wales and Borders network has been officially launched.

“We are immensely proud of our key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ vision to transform rail travel for passengers.

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“The manufacture of our trains is taking place at our state-of-the-art facility in Newport, South Wales. We see ourselves as a local manufacturer, supporting highly skilled jobs and bringing employment opportunities to the local area whilst focusing on sustainability issues and addressing the needs of the Welsh economy.

Our trains are being built in Wales to serve the Welsh communities”

(Lead image: Transport for Wales)

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Education

Pontarddulais school’s physical education department supported by Amazon

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A comprehensive school in Pontarddulais has received a £1,000 donation from the Amazon fulfilment centre in Swansea.

Pontarddulais Comprehensive School plans to use the donation to purchase new safety mats for use in PE lessons.

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They say this will allow their pupils to enjoy activities such as gymnastics and inspire more pupils to follow in the footsteps of their peers who have recently succeeded at a national level.

Christopher Law, General Manager at Amazon in Swansea, said: “At Amazon, we recognise the value of extra-curricular development, and we are pleased to lend a helping hand to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School with this donation. We wish the school well as it seeks to inspire and engage the leaders of tomorrow through both academic and physical education.”

Nigel Hughes, who is an engineer at Amazon in Swansea and put the school forward for the donation, added: “My children receive a fantastic education and genuine support at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, and it’s great that Amazon is providing this donation to help fund new equipment.”

Julie Evans, Area Coordinator for Health and Wellbeing at Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, said: “We want to thank Christopher and the Amazon team in Swansea. This kind and generous donation will support us in continuing to create the high-quality facilities required for a first-class educational experience. It will be a great addition allowing us to strengthen and expand our school’s physical activity opportunities.”

The donation to Pontarddulais Comprehensive School was made as part of Amazon’s programme to support the communities in and around its operating locations across the UK.

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(Lead image: Pontarddulais Comprehensive School)

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Lifestyle

Swansea man’s delight as he scoops combined £37,000 cash-and-car prize

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A Swansea man who was feeling lucky during the working week was left in a state of delighted disbelief on finding out he had won a combined £37,000 cash-and-car prize with online competitions company BOTB.

Anthony Brain from Swansea could not believe his luck when BOTB’s Christian Williams picked up the phone to let him know he was the winner of its Midweek Lifestyle competition.

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Anthony, who works for Swansea-based automotive products company Marelli, scooped a brand new BMW 128ti, as well as a cash prize of £2,000.

After recovering from his initial shock, Anthony said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable – I’m over-the-moon and still on a real high from it. It’s rare that I take part in the Midweek Lifestyle Competition – I think I’ve only entered it once or twice before – but I was feeling lucky during the working week, so thought ‘why not?’ When I got the call to say I’d won, I was stunned.

“Being a car enthusiast, I’m really excited about winning the car but the cash is brilliant too. We’ve already booked some holidays with some of the winnings, including to Italy and Florida. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.”

Anthony said his prize win has prompted colleagues to throw their hat in the ring and give BOTB’s competitions a go.

He added: “The thing is you’ve got to be in it to win it – and I think once you know someone who has won, you feel more hopeful that you could be in with a chance. I’d encourage anyone thinking about entering to try it for themselves.”

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Other recent winners have bagged a motorbike, a luxury holiday to Barbados and £15,000 in cash. 

The company, listed on the stock market, was founded by William Hindmarch in 1999 and has given away more than £47m worth of cars so far. 

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