ICAM for the Energy Transition

The new Low Carbon Energy theme

In order to meet the temperature goals set out in the Paris Agreement – to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C – the world will need to take actions including reducing its reliance on energy derived from fossil fuels. However, with higher energy usage strongly linked to improved human development (UN, 2018), we need to ensure that energy demand is supported with an increase of energy from low carbon sources. This poses an ambitious challenge to the energy sector, including bp, and materials science and engineering will undoubtedly be playing a critical role in seeking to help to meet it.

ICAM is addressing this challenge through its three Enduring Themes: Low Carbon Energy, Sustainable Operations and Underpinning Sciences. The Low Carbon Energy Enduring Theme is specifically designed to have a direct impact on technologies that can help facilitate the transition to a lower carbon future.

The research being explored in the Low Carbon Energy Theme aims to support bp’s strategy to transform from an International Oil Company to an Integrated Energy Company, as well as to help to open up new areas that may disrupt current technologies and offer new business opportunities. It involves four focus areas: Hydrogen, Electrification, Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage, and the Circular Economy and Sustainability.

Materials research within ICAM is also active in areas that can support the reduction of carbon emissions, including increasing energy efficiency and supporting increasing sustainability in operations. These research projects are brought together in the Sustainable Operations Theme and will address technology challenges aimed at improving the efficiency of operations within the energy industry.

Low Carbon Energy and Sustainable Operations cover a broad range of materials challenges, and are supported by advanced techniques in imaging, characterisation and modelling that fall under the third Theme of Underpinning Sciences. The developments within this Theme provide bp, other ICAM projects and the wider scientific community with innovative tools to accelerate cutting-edge research.

With these three Themes in place, ICAM is maintaining its focus on research excellence in the field of advanced materials and supporting the transition to net zero.

Low Carbon Energy focus areas

The four Low Carbon Energy focus areas that are being explored by the ICAM are Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage, Electrification, Hydrogen, and the Circular Economy and Sustainability. These areas were chosen due to their relationships to each other within the fields of electrochemistry and electrocatalysis, and represent the ICAMs commitment to the energy transition.

Low Carbon Emissions

While these areas represent a direct investigation into low carbon energy, as part of its existing research the ICAM has been working in areas that help to lower carbon emissions. The established Sustainable Operations theme encompasses this research, helping existing technologies within the energy industry function efficiently and cutting their overall carbon intensity.

A commitment to research excellence

With these two research themes, and the supporting Underpinning Sciences theme, the ICAM is maintaining its commitment to research excellence in the field of advanced materials for the energy industry and supporting low carbon aspirations of bp.


Advanced materials research covers a spectrum of academic fields and disciplines. The scientific publications authored by our researchers showcase some of the ground-breaking work taking place across the ICAM partnership.

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