LONDON - Oil giant BP announced plans for a $100 million international research center that will focus on advanced materials, including smart coatings, metal alloys and composites, and protective membranes.

Known as the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials, or BP-ICAM, the center will lead research aimed at advancing the fundamental understanding and use of materials across a variety of energy and industrial applications.

The BP-ICAM will be modeled on a “hub and spoke” structure, with the hub located within The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, which has core strengths in materials, engineering, characterization and collaborative working, and a track record of delivering breakthrough research and engineering applications that can be deployed in the real world. The spokes and other founder members, all world-class academic institutions, are the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The 10-year investment program will fund research into advanced materials and is expected to support 25 new academic posts, along with 100 post-graduate researchers and 80 post-doctoral fellows.

Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive, said, “Advanced materials and coatings will be vital in finding, producing and processing energy safely and efficiently in the years ahead, as energy producers work at unprecedented depths, pressures and temperatures, and as refineries, manufacturing plants, and pipeline operators seek ever better ways to combat corrosion and deploy new materials to improve their operations.

“Manchester has world-leading capabilities and facilities in materials and was chosen after a global search to act as the hub of the center, working with other world-class university departments. We look forward to deepening further the very productive partnership that already exists between our professionals in BP and the academic team at Manchester.”

The BP-ICAM hub will be based in dedicated premises that will use state-of-the-art tools to support this major international collaboration. The BP-ICAM will carry out research into seven primary areas of direct interest to industry: structural materials, smart coatings, functional materials, catalysis, membranes, energy storage and energy harvesting. The initial focus will be on: structural materials, such as new metal alloys and composites for deep-water production, and high pressure/high temperature reservoirs; smart coatings, for increased protection from the elements and improving a structure’s usable life, protecting pipelines and offshore platforms from corrosion; and membranes and other structures, for separation, filtration and purification of oil and gas, water and chemicals in production, refining, and biofuels processes and petrochemicals.