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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M017753/1
Title: Building sustainable local nexuses of food, energy and water: from smart engineering to shared prosperity (The Local Nexus Network)
Principal Investigator: Yang, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Ingram, Dr J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Combined Heat and Power Association Flooding on the levels action group Good Food Oxford
Innocent Ltd Nestle UK Ltd Oxford City Council
Thames Water Plc
Department: Engineering Science
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Network
Starts: 01 February 2015 Ends: 31 July 2017 Value (£): 483,898
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Coastal & Waterway Engineering Energy Efficiency
Manufact. Enterprise Ops& Mgmt Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Environment
Food and Drink Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Oct 2014 RDM Networks Announced
26 Nov 2014 RDM Networks Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Historically, human industrial and economic activities have been shaped greatly by the pattern of resource utilisation in favour at the time. For thousands of years pre-1800, material and energy resources, mostly renewable, were extracted and used locally. With the widening exploitation of energy-dense fossil fuels, post-1800 industry has been diverted to more centralised production primarily based on geographically concentrated resources, accompanied by large-scale distribution infrastructures. Whilst the scale economies of these large systems have served us well in certain respects, continued reliance on centralised resource extraction and production has contributed to the formation of a range of acute issues facing the global society today, such as insecurity of essential supplies, climate change, and social-economic imbalance and injustice.

Driven by the desire to improve resource utilisation and broader sustainability in response to the above issues, a special chapter of re-distributed manufacturing is concerned with localised production with indigenous sustainable resources to support local economy and communities. Among products and services that can potentially benefit from localised production, food, energy and water represent the most essential commodities for every society. Furthermore, it has increasingly been recognised that there exist close ties between these commodities, manifested by (1) the significant energy and water footprints in food production and the mutual footprint between energy and water production, and (2) their intertwined connections with land and the broader ecosystems. The inseparable challenges from the three sectors require an integrative approach as opposed to tackling them in silos.

Local nexuses, involving localised food manufacturing and decentralised energy and water supply that interact with the food system, are a special chapter of re-distributed manufacturing (RDM) with a focus on the sustainable local alignment of resources, production and consumption. To-date, a comprehensive technological, economic, and social/political understanding of local production/manufacture of food, energy and water, or local nexus, is still yet to be developed.

By collaboration between engineering and social sciences, the Local Nexus Network will carry out feasibility projects and events to (i) establish the technical and socio-economic state-of-the-art of local productions of food, energy and water, (ii) generate initial insights for guiding researchers, businesses, policy makers and communities who are enthusiastic about exploring the potential of local nexuses, (iii) develop an evidence-based research agenda, (iv) form an inclusive research and stakeholder community, and (v) inform other related research on RDM. Two "master" case study locales, representing "new development" and "retrofitting" respectively, will be employed for empirical data collection and used as the background for developing new thinking.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk