The Lunar Society: Hydrogen, Magnets, Sustainability and the Birmingham Connection


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Many of the readers who enjoyed reading an earlier post, The Ross Barlow: a zero-emission hydrogen hybrid canal boat, will be interested to read that Professor Rex Harris, University of Birmingham, later gave a Lunar Society Boulton and Watt Commemoration Lecture.

rex harris boat 2012He talked about hydrogen, rare earth magnets, sustainability and the role of the city and region, past, present and future, considering two major threats facing our planet: resource depletion and climate change. Both operate on similar timescales and both require urgent remedial action.

Rex explored the challenges that face society in identifying solutions that reduce the seemingly inexorable rise in CO2 emissions, and which of these make the most of our sustainable energy sources.

He drew upon his own research on hydrogen and magnets and demonstrated that they are essential partners in any life-saving drive towards a sustainable society and  showed why Birmingham and its environs could play a pivotal role in the implementation of carbon-free technologies by building upon its manufacturing and engineering history and creating a much needed manufacturing renaissance.

A copy of the 150 slide powerpoint presentation can be found here. View the highlights of Professor Harris’ Lecture here or the full Lecture, here.

Professor Harris is currently Honorary Professor of Material Science at the School of Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham. For around 40 years, he led the Applied Alloy Chemistry Group (AACG) in Metallurgy and Materials. During this time he maintained a long-standing research interest in the fields of rare earth alloys, permanent magnets and hydrogen purification and storage materials. He developed a close synergy between these fields with the development and application of the Hydrogen Decrepitation (HD) process to the manufacture of NdFeB magnets.

The HD process is now used world-wide as the standard means of production of these materials.

Read more here: – and about his presentation on sustainable boating at the Venice boat show in April this year as the city cleared motorboats, launches and barges from the Grand Canal for five hours:



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