Call for researchers and industry partners for new Air Quality Technologies European Special Interest Group

UK Fluids Network has been nourishing a network of special interest groups in different areas of fluids research in the UK. One of the groups (led by Svetlana Aleksandrova from Coventry University and Andrew Williams from University of Chester) is dedicated to Particulate Matter Filtration, and is a community of researchers, industry representatives and policy makers building a dialogue around reducing particulate matter pollution from transport.

After three years of successful operation, the group is now seeking to expand into a European Special Interest group and become a part of ERCOFTAC (European Research Community on Flow, Turbulence and Combustion). The new group will have a wider scope, with a provisional title of “Air Quality Technologies“.

Being part of Ercoftac will allow the group to continue supporting excellent research related to reducing air pollution, build a dialogue between academia, industry and policy makers, exchange ideas and inspire the new generation of researchers. Activities of the group will include (but not be limited to) organising meetings, seminars, courses, summer schools, research visits etc.

The group already has potential representatives from several European pilot centres (UK, Greece and Iberia), but would like to invite all researchers working in adjacent areas to take part in the bid. Industrial representatives are also very welcome.

In order to be included on the Steering Committee (i.e. take an active part in making decisions about the group future and funding distribution), the organisation should be paying Ercoftac an annual fee (500 EUR for universities, 1000 EUR for industry). There is no such requirement for taking part in regular Special Interest group activities.

If you are interested in taking part in the bid, please contact Svetlana Aleksandrova (csy092@coventry.ac.uk) or Andy Williams (andrew.williams@chester.ac.uk).

Outcomes and Actions from SAQN Launch Meeting

The SAQN has reviewed feedback from network members and points of discussion raised at our initial meeting, and agreed the following actions for the network to pursue:

Future events

For future events we will continue to prioritise venues with convenient location and good accessibility, as far as budget will allow. 

Online discussion space

We will investigate options for this that would allow conversations between members. Constraints would be that we do not have a budget for this, and do not want something that involves a lot of monitoring/moderating. A possible platform is LinkedIn or there may be a google platform supported by the University of York that would suit.

Collaboration Building Workshop

A decision was taken to rename the sandpits as ‘Collaboration Building Workshops’ given the negative connotations of sandpits for many people. The topics identified could be used for the workshop in June to give the event more focus, but the LMG had concerns that this might be too narrow and exclude too many people. The risk of giving the sandpit no focus is that there will not be enough common interest amongst the attendees to produce good projects. This discussion will be taken further by the LMG when planning the workshop.

Mapping networks

Given the feedback about the numerous other networks, we felt it would be helpful to map these networks and identify their particular niche. This would help us in our awareness of other events and activities, as well as to define more clearly our own niche in the air quality space. It would also enable us to better signpost members to other relevant activity where their interests cannot be met by SAQN. This mapping exercise would need to be maintained and revised over time to take account of the changing landscape.

Tracking new collaborations

One of the aims of the network is to foster new collaborations among network members that lead to new projects and research activity. We have positive indications that such collaborations have started already at the launch, but need to get more detailed information about who the collaborators are and what activity they are doing. We will ask members to report back regularly through the monthly newsletter, but also send an annual survey to members, asking them to give details of any new partnerships that they have developed through SAQN. This information can be reported back to STFC, but will also allow us to make better connections through the network, by spotting opportunities for different organisations to join a developing collaboration or signposting people to relevant funding.

Under-represented sectors

Discussions at the meeting identified areas of interest to the network where we did not have representation. These included health (particularly highlighted by Ian Mudway’s excellent presentation), social sciences (as demonstrated by the interest in behaviour change) and agriculture (given the strong interest in ammonia). We will:

  • Seek out individuals from these sectors to join the network / be champions / join the steering group
  • Identify relevant events to attend/present at where we can reach these sectors
  • Explore the possibilities of hosting smaller events aimed at these particular sectors (possibly by piggy backing on existing meetings or holding virtual meetings/seminars)

We welcome ongoing feedback on the activity of the network. If you have any comments on the actions from the report, or other ideas about what you’d like to see from the network, please email fleur.hughes@york.ac.uk

Pre-Launch Survey Analysis

Our pre-launch survey closed in January, and was completed by 202 people. Our report shows some of the information we gathered and how we are using this to inform our plans for the network. Thank you to all those who completed the survey and shared their views with us.

To view the report in detail, click the ‘full screen’ symbol in the bottom right hand corner of the image. To view each of the three pages, use the arrows in the bottom left corner.

Tell us which networks are relevant to air quality

In our launch meeting, our members spoke about the number of other air quality networks operating in the UK, the risk of too many meetings and overlap of subjects. We would like to create a map of air quality networks so that we can better understand the landscape, offer more signposting to our members to relevant events and opportunities and provide a more joined up approach to air quality challenges.

If you are a member of, or are aware of other relevant networks, please complete this short form with brief details.

Travel Grant Applications Now Open

Applications are now open to SAQN members for our Travel Grants scheme. Travel grants are offered for activity that will enable network members to build collaborations, make new connections, take advantage of STFC capabilities and assist them in proposal development. Members may apply for funding for travel, accommodation, subsistence and training/registration fees where needed.

Travel grants are available to network members, so don’t forget to join the network before you complete your application. We’ll be awarding them on a rolling basis throughout the life of the network, so there is no deadline for applications.

If you feel that you could benefit from one of our Travel Grants, please complete the online application form.

Further details about SAQN funding can be found on our Funding page.

SAQN Launch Report

The first event of the SAQN took place 14-15 January at the Principal Hotel in York. Over 80 delegates from across the UK joined the event to hear more about the opportunities to tackle air quality challenges. Academics from many universities mixed with representatives from industry and colleagues from across the STFC. Policy organisations also attended, including staff from Defra, the Environment Agency, local councils and Natural England.

Sessions on the first day included information on the wider Air Quality landscape, identifying challenges and opportunities in research, policy, health impacts and industry. Presentations from STFC colleagues then highlighted the breadth and variety of capabilities available across the different locations and facilities.

Network members laughing
Network members talking

The second day began with a look at the funding opportunities available within the network and beyond, with a presentation from UKRI SPF Clean Air and one of their funded projects, QUANT.

Using the information from the presentations, the network then held round table discussions to identify topics of interest, and to post these to an online noticeboard. Over lunch everyone voted on the subjects that were of most interest to them, which were:

  • Ammonia – Challenges and Opportunities
  • Sensors and Miniaturisation
  • Machine Learning
  • Indoor Air Quality Monitoring
  • Integrating Data
  • Behaviour Change
  • Health Effects Monitoring and Data
  • Early Career Researcher Support Network

The meeting concluded with feedback from each discussion, leaving plenty of ideas for consideration by the SAQN and the network members. Presentations from the meeting are available to download.

Thank you to all our presenters and to everyone who attended the launch, gave us their input and made it a great success. Our next annual meeting will take place in Spring 2021. To find out about this and other network events, please join the network.

Photos: Paul Shields, Kevin Smith

Agenda announced for SAQN Launch, 14-15 January 2020

We are pleased to announce the agenda for the SAQN Launch event.

The purpose of the meeting is to identify areas of need and opportunity for research, industry and policy to work together, building collaborations across the different communities. There will be interactive sessions, focussed on discussing ideas and identifying areas for focus of both network activities and wider collaborations. Presentations will explore air quality challenges and future opportunities rather than discussing past research.

Details of the agenda are available on the events page. Speakers will be announced before Christmas.

There are still some places available at the event for network members. The deadline for applications is Monday 6 January 2020. To become a network member, please complete the pre-launch survey.

Event: Oxford Air Quality Meeting, 10 Jan 2020

News from SAQN member Felix Leach regarding an upcoming event that may be of interest to the network:

“I want to invite you to the inaugural Oxford Air Quality Meeting, to be held in Oxford on 10 Jan 2020. The aim of the meeting is to bring together the air quality community with the combustion and emissions, policy, and health communities. The meeting is free to attend, thanks to generous sponsorship, and includes speakers from Cambustion, AIR Alliance, DEFRA, Public Health England, Transport for London (presenting the impact of the London ULEZ), and Oxford City Council. I hope to foster as much engagement between the communities represented, and so hope that SAQN members will be eager to support. The full speaker list is available on the website (www.oaqm.org).

There will be an opportunity to present posters, so I would invite those of you who would like to do so to get in touch.”

Felix Leach – felix.leach@eng.ox.ac.uk

Applications now open for SAQN Launch, 14-15 Jan 2020

Our first event of the network will bring partners together to discuss opportunities for collaboration, inform the content of the network and begin to identify topics for future funding calls. The agenda will include information about the network, presentations from colleagues representing different communities, as well as plenty of networking time.

The Launch venue is the Principal Hotel, York. The hotel is immediately next to the train station, making it a very convenient and comfortable location.

  • Day 1: Tuesday 14 January, 11am – 5.30pm
  • Launch Dinner: Tuesday 14 January, 7pm
  • Day 2: Wednesday 15 January, 9am -3pm

Attendance is free to network members, although we are not able to reimburse travel expenses to all members. To become a network member, please complete the pre-launch survey.

Accommodation is available to purchase at the venue at the rate of £92 per night. We have limited funding available to cover travel and accommodation expenses for members who would otherwise be unable to attend the event. You can apply for this funding through the application form.