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Interdisciplinary Research Centre


Julian Allwood is Professor of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Cambridge. He worked for 10 years for Alcoa, prior to developing an academic career, initially at Imperial College, and from 2000 in Cambridge. In parallel with developing new manufacturing technologies for metals, he has built up a research group looking at environmental systems and production. From 2009-13 he held an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship, to explore ‘material efficiency’ as a climate mitigation strategy – delivering material services with less new material. This led to publication in 2012 of the book “Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open” which can be read online at, listed by Bill Gates as one of his top six reads of 2015.  A revised edition "Sustainable Materials: without the hot air" has now been released.

Julian’s research group of around 25 people, with connections to several other universities in the UK and internationally, has three main areas of activity:

  • Whole Systems Analysis and visualisation of energy, material and natural resource systems - including the interactions between the energy, land, water, bulk and critical material systems, at different geographical scales.
  • Material Demand Reduction - identifying the technical and business potential for material demand reduction in key sectors, gathering case study evidence of greater material efficiency in practice, and exploring present and future business and policy contexts. Current activities are focused on the construction, steel, clothing and automotive sectors
  • Novel Material Processes - developing novel processes to produce efficient components in low volumes, to minimise process scrap and to enable material re-use prior to destructive re-cycling.

The group is supported by government funding, and a growing number of industrially funded studentships, and has a strong record of external engagement, with industry and government partners and with the general public. Two spin out companies launched from the group during 2015: Reduse Ltd is commercialising our work on laser un-printing to allow paper re-use, and Foreseer Ltd is developing our innovate Foreseer tool for analysing resource futures.

Julian was a Lead Author of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with a focus on mitigating industrial emissions. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Materials, Minerals and Mining, a Fellow of the International Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP) and currently chairman of its metal forming section, a member of the UK’s Energy Research Partnership and is joint editor-in-chief of the Journal of Materials Processing Technology


  • Material Efficiency
  • Metal Forming
  • Scenario Analysis of energy and resource futures
Professor Julian M Allwood
Not available for consultancy


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