A leading expert in the field of renewable hydrogen generation will bring his expertise to Cranfield later this year when he joins the University’s Energy and Power research team.

Professor Upul Wijayantha will move to Cranfield from Loughborough University to become the new Head of the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems, taking up his role in May.

Professor Wijayantha brings with him considerable expertise in low-carbon hydrogen technologies, electrochemical energy storage, energy materials and the circular chemical economy, having led industrial development of integrated renewable hydrogen generation systems in the UK that were then expanded to the US.

He currently serves on two technical task groups of the International Energy Agency looking at renewable hydrogen technologies, and is part of the team behind HyDEX, a project aiming to accelerate innovation in hydrogen by supporting SMEs to develop the technologies and skills needed for the emerging hydrogen economy.

Professor Wijayantha said: “Renewable and low-carbon energy technologies have a key role to play in our efforts to meet net zero targets. Cranfield University has already built a global reputation for its advanced research and training, and it has an ambitious plan to expand its activities in the renewable and low-carbon sectors. I am absolutely delighted to join Cranfield to lead the Centre of Renewable Energy Systems and be a part of the dynamic team in these exciting times.”

Professor Wijayantha graduated from the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka in 1993 and studied for a Master’s in Philosophy before moving to the UK, where he was awarded a PhD from the University of Bath for his work in semiconductor photoelectrochemistry.

He worked in industry for a number of years prior to joining Loughborough, leading efforts to develop and scale up photoelectrochemical water splitting technology for the production of hydrogen using solar energy.

Professor Wijayantha recently worked with Midlands Engine,Energy Research Accelerator, academics, industries and local government representatives to develop theUK Midlands pan regional green growth plan. He leads industrial engagement in the UK Research and Innovation Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Chemical Economy, and is a co-director of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Centre of Doctoral Training in Sustainable Hydrogen. He is the immediate past Chair of the RSC Electrochemistry Group, and a current member of the RSC Midlands Steering Group Committee.

Professor Phil Hart, Director of Energy and Power, said: “We are delighted and privileged to have Upul join our team. His expertise and experience across a breadth of sustainable energy research, but particularly in the development of low-carbon hydrogen, will be a real asset to Cranfield as we expand our leading-edge research in these areas.

“We look forward to welcoming him on board later this year.”