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Can motor sports ever be green?

21 November 2007

Cardiff Science Café - 4 December @ 7.30pm

Hot on the heels of the Wales GB Rally, Cardiff Science Café is raising the controversial issue of whether motor sports can ever be any good for the environment.

In a world where we are now all reminded to reduce our own car use and to look for alternative sustainable solutions, can the world of motor sports justify lap after lap of fuel consumption in the name of entertainment alone? Or can the technology developed with the vast amount of funding invested in motor sports help develop more environmentally friendly cars?

Cardiff University academics Professor Karen Holford, from the School of Engineering and Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis from Cardiff Business School will be arguing the two sides of the debate at the next Cardiff Science Café.

Professor Holford, who set up the University’s Formula Student motor racing team, said: "I have a passion for motorsports and as an engineer, we are always looking for ways to solve problems - and that includes problems about the climate. I believe research into more sustainable fuels may provide benefits to all of us."

Wendy Sadler, director of Cardiff University spin-out science made simple which promotes public engagement with science, will be chairing the free event. She said: "Motorsports are big business so it will be interesting to hear the perspective of an engineer versus that of a business expert to see whether all that excessive fuel use can ever bring any benefits to the planet. I’m sure the debate will be quite lively!"

The Café will take place on Tuesday December the 4th at 7.30 pm in the Café Bar at The Gate Arts Centre in Keppoch Street, Roath. Science Cafés are an informal way of finding out more about science. They provide an opportunity for anyone to question an expert on things they are curious about. For more information see

Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiff Science Café

The Cardiff Science Café runs at The Gate Arts Centre on the first Tuesday of every month between September and July. All events are currently free to attend. The Gate Arts Centre is on Keppoch Street in Roath.

2. Contacts

For more information or interviews please contact:

Prof Karen Holford: 02920 874823

Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis: 02920875702.

Wendy Sadler: 07791 755070

3. Speakers’ biographies

Professor Karen Holford

Professor Holford is the Joint Director of the Institute of Machines and Structures in the School of Engineering at Cardiff University, where she has have worked since 1990. Prior to this she worked as senior design engineer at AB Electronic Products Ltd, where she led a variety of projects, in particular in the automotive field with companies such as BMW, Jaguar and Rover. Professor Holford’s first degree was a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from UWIST (Cardiff) which was sponsored by Rolls-Royce and her PhD in Acoustic Emission was also undertaken in Cardiff, at UCC, sponsored by the Health and Safety Executive. A Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, her primary research theme is damage assessment; recent significant projects include the evaluation of major motorway bridges and damage assessment of aircraft landing gear. She has a passion for automotive engineering and motorsport and introduced Formula Student to Cardiff University, in which students design, build and race a single seat racing car.

Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis

Dutch-born and educated in Australia, Belgium and Scotland, Dr Nieuwenhuis has a life-long interest in cars and car-making. After obtaining a PhD from Edinburgh University he was able to indulge his passion professionally in an academic setting. He first joined the Motor Industry Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, later MIRU Ltd, and in 1990 the Centre for Automotive Industry Research (CAIR) at Cardiff University. CAIR studies the economic and strategic aspects of the world motor industry. His main interests have been historic and environmental and his main publications have been in these areas, including The Green Car Guide (1992), The Death of Motoring? (1997), The Automotive Industry and the Environment (2003), The Business of Sustainable Mobility (edited, 2006). Dr Nieuwenhuis has written numerous other articles and also contributed to the Beaulieu Encyclopaedia of the Automobile.

4. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities. Visit the University website at: