Imperial College London

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer MP visits Imperial

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People in labcoats in a discussion

Students Begoña Parias Moreno de los Rios, Sophia (Yunmin) Lee and Alkmini Nicolaides meet Sir Keir.

Leader of the Labour Party the Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP visited the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant as the UN's Climate Change Conference began.

Sir Keir was hosted by Imperial's President Professor Hugh Brady, Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) and Zero Pollution Lead, Professor Omar Matar, Head of Department, Chemical Engineering, Professor Daryl Williams, Professor of Particle Science and Dr Colin Hale, Senior Teaching Fellow.

To see first-hand how the university's researchers, students and entrepreneurs are helping to deliver the scientific and technological solutions we need to achieve net-zero was nothing short of inspiring. The Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP Leader of the Labour Party

Meeting several students from the Department of Chemical Engineering as well as two climate entrepreneurs, Sir Keir saw first-hand how Imperial provides students with the knowledge and skills to lead a Net Zero future.

He visited the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant, the only facility in the world where students learn to operate an industry-like plant stretching over four floors.

Built to the highest industrial standards, the plant is a core part of the training provided to Imperial’s chemical engineers, typifying many of the features that graduates will encounter in the ‘real world’ and demonstrating best practice in capturing and storing harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) before it can be released into the atmosphere – an essential feature in the fight against climate change.

The Imperial students showed Sir Keir how to control the plant during an emergency before taking him on a tour of the plant. Sir Keir then talked to students about their hopes for a ‘green’ future and what they think technological change will mean. 

People in labcoats smiling
Imperial students Alkmini Nicolaides and Helen (Siyu) Guo explain their work in the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant.

Imperial graduate entrepreneur Julian Ellis-Brown explained how he founded SaltyCo, a materials science company that makes planet-positive textiles with a manufacturing facility located in Scotland. He said: “There is no single solution to the sustainability challenges we’re facing so innovation from young science entrepreneurs is critical, as is investing in innovation and talent in places like Imperial.”

Sir Keir also met Cai Linton, co-founder and CEO of Multus, who are developing a replacement for animal serum used in cultivating meat. Cai said: “Imperial’s Enterprise Lab and the support they offer has been key, from developing our business from an idea to now having a laboratory, offices and a team of 14, based at Imperial’s White City Campus.”

The visit came as COP27, the 2022 UN’s Climate Change Conference, got underway in Egypt.

People in labcoats and hardhats looking at map in a plant

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said: "Developing carbon capture and storage technologies is vital as we journey along the road to net zero. Not only will it create the jobs of the future, but it will have a real impact on people’s lives – bringing down inflation, lowering energy bills, and contributing to our environmental responsibilities.

"It was invaluable to visit Imperial College London today. To see first-hand how the university's researchers, students and entrepreneurs are helping to deliver the scientific and technological solutions we need to achieve net-zero was nothing short of inspiring. The technologies being created here are part of solving this urgent and complex challenge. The skills, talent and zeal for the project showed exactly why we need to invest in our young people to harness our country’s full potential."

Making a zero-pollution future a reality

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London said: “Imperial is on the front lines of the fight against climate change and, as one of the world’s top universities, we have the power to help make a zero-pollution future a reality. Our students, researchers and innovators are united in their commitment to solving this urgent global challenge – delivering evidence-based solutions, developing new technologies, and challenging conventional thinking.  

“We were pleased to welcome Sir Keir Starmer to our Carbon Capture Pilot Plant today – the most sophisticated university facility of its kind in the world – where we are training our students with the skills they need to work towards a more sustainable world.” 

Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) said: “Securing a sustainable future requires us to look not just at a single problem, but at the big picture, understanding how energy security, biodiversity and pollution challenges are interlinked. That's why Imperial's Zero Pollution initiative is developing systems-based approaches to enable radical shifts in industrial systems, technologies, and business models – going beyond zero carbon to creating a pollution-free truly sustainable future. We have the talent, creativity, expertise, and innovative spirit to drive the change our world needs 

World leader in climate change research

Imperial is a world-leader in climate change research, driving advances in sustainable energy sources, electric vehicles and fuel cells; tackling water scarcity and ocean plastics; improving air quality; and helping to ensure food security and climate resilience across the world. It goes beyond carbon to consider human-made pollution in all its forms – from oil spills and ocean plastic to toxic air and heavy metals accumulating in our environment.

The College, having committed to becoming a sustainable and net-zero carbon institution by 2040, embeds a commitment to sustainability into all aspects of its work – from its research and education its campus operations and interacts with industry. 

Reporters

Lisa Bungeroth

Lisa Bungeroth
Office of the President

Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3970
Email: joanna.wilson@imperial.ac.uk

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