Collaboration research projects
Members of the Engineering Alloys team are involved in large, often pan-university, collaborative research projects and other activities. Examples of these activities are described below.
Collaborative research projects
BIAM-Imperial Centre for Materials Characterisation, Processing and Modelling
The BIAM-Imperial Centre for Materials Characterisation, Processing and Modelling has a significant investment in world-class centre for research at Imperial College, hosted in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials. In Materials, we have a team focussed on understanding the fundamentals of deformation in nickel superalloys used in gas turbine engines.
Our bredth of interest in this spans not only traditional characterisation efforts (microscopy), but also includes innovations in the field of combining physically based modelling with full field strain measurement with electron backscatter diffraction and digitial image correlation.
Professor Fionn Dunne and Dr Ben Britton have research activities that are supported within this centre.
For more information, please see the BIAM centre website.
DARE (Designing Alloys for Resource Efficiency)
DARE (darealloys.org) is a £3.2m EPRSC collaborative programme between Sheffield, Kings College London, Cambridge and Imperial that aims to develop alloys for new manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacture and for supply chain compression and scrap recycling that enable a more efficient, less resource and CO2-intensive UK metals sector. The project partners span from Magnesium Elektron (Mg) to Timet, Safran, Alcoa, Firth Rixson and Rolls-Royce in the titanium sector, to VW, Siemens, Tata, Forge Masters and Arcelor Mittal in steels, all coming together to integrate process, alloy and business model design.
Rolls-Royce Nuclear UTC
Rolls-Royce plc have a significant investment in research activities within the UK, most notably through their series of University Technology Centres (UTCs). Imperial College hosts two such UTCs, one of which is lead by Professor Fionn Dunne as Director.
The Nuclear UTC considereds a wide scope of activities, for the Engineering Alloys team we are strongly linked in with a focus on mechanical performance and structure integritity assessment in the field of Nuclear Engineering. This overlaps with many of the interests of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering.
Professor Fionn Dunne and Drs Mark Wenman, Ben Britton and David Dye have research activities that fall under this umbrella.
For more information, please see the RR-UTC website.
Centre for Nuclear Engineering (CNE)
Metallurgy plays a significant role in structure engineering in the nuclear sector. Here we are interested in understanding the behaviour of metals to aid in design and lifetime prediction of keys structural components in nuclear applications, such as piping used in heat exchange and steam generation.
Drs Mark Wenman and Ben Britton have research activities that fall under this umbrella.
For more information please see the CNE Website.
Future Liquid Metal Engineering (LiME) research hub
The UK metal casting industry adds £2.6bn/yr to the UK economy, employs 30,000 people, produces 1.14 million tons of metal castings per year and underpins the competitive position of every sector of UK manufacturing. However, the industry faces severe challenges, including increasing energy and materials costs, tightening environmental regulations and a short supply of skilled people. The Future LiME Hub is addressing these challenges with a focus on harnessing recycled aluminium and magnesium alloys in high value automotive applications.
This £10M EPSRC sponsored manufacturing research hub (EP/M025632/1) is based at Brunel University with complementary expertise of academic spokes at Oxford, Leeds, Manchester and Imperial College London. The Imperial spoke is led by Dr Chris Gourlay.
For more information please see the Future LiME hub website (www.lime.ac.uk) Or the press release from EPSRC (https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/manufacturinghubs/)
MIDAS - Mechanistic understanding of Irradiation Damage in fuel Assemblies
MIDAS (Mechanistic understanding of Irradiation Damage in fuel Assemblies) is a £7million EPSRC sponsored programme grant (EP/S01702X/1) lead by the University of Manchester. The project involves close collaborations with Imperial College (Britton, Dunne, Wenman, Balint), University of Oxford and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.
A major part of a nuclear reactor is the fuel assembly - the structure that encapsulates the highly radioactive nuclear fuel. Therefore understanding the performance of the materials used to make these assemblies is critical for safe and efficient operation. The MIDAS team are investigating the performance of assembly materials when irradiated. By gaining a better understanding of these materials, more accurate safety cases can be made, which means that fuel assemblies can be used for longer periods without additional risk. Such knowledge will enable the UK to operate the next generation of reactors far more efficiently, significantly reducing the cost of nuclear power.
A second key theme of the project is to explore the use of zirconium alloys in critical components for future fusion reactors.
Shell Advanced Interfaces in Materials Science (AIMS) UTC
Shell Advanced Interfaces in Materials Science (AIMS) UTC
The Shell AIMs UTC is a focussed effort to understand the role of interfaces and microstructure on the performance of materials used in the oil & gas industry. This project is led by Professor Mary Ryan (in the Department of Materials) and extends over five years. Dr Ben Britton leads activities in structural metals and his team work on understanding the role of microstructure in hydrogen sulphide based failure of pipe-line steels [LINK TO JIM’s PROJECT], as well as stress relaxation cracking in metals used in pipe-lines. Fundamental understanding of these issues, using state-of-the-art characterisation techniques including electron microscopy, is essential to drive a step-change in our understanding of alloys which are currently deployed in service, as well as underpinning design decisions on the next generation of materials used in these demanding environments.
Strategic Partnership in Structural Metallic Systems for Gas Turbines
The Rolls Royce - EPSRC strategic partnership brings together researchers from Cambridge, Birmingham, Swansea, Sheffield, Manchester, Oxford and Imperial in an £8m programme to improve gas turbine materials. Imperial’s contribution to the programme focusses on the development of new Co-Ni superalloys for gas turbine discs, on which two patents have already been filed.