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Meridian Business Development UK

Country: United Kingdom

Meridian Business Development UK

5 Projects, page 1 of 1
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: DT/E010334/1
    Funder Contribution: 411,318 GBP

    Summary Unlike other materials for engineering applications, metals, such as aluminium and magnesium, can be recycled repeatedly without loss of their inherent properties. Recycling metals is not only economically viable, but also extremely beneficial for conservation of limited natural resources, reduction of energy consumption and waste generation, all contributing positively to a sustainable economy. One of the main barriers to the increased use of recycled light alloy scrap (both process scrap (new) and post consumer scrap (old)) is the existence of excessive levels of inclusions and impurity elements, which usually leads to downgrading into materials with poorer mechanical properties and reduced corrosion resistance. The prime objective of the proposed project is to break down this barrier and prevent market failure through the application of the step-change rheoforming technologies to allow the re-use of aluminium and magnesium alloy scrap in high-level automotive and other value added applications. The technical approach is to convert melts of recycled light alloy scrap into a semi-solid slurry using a twin screw slurry maker (TSSM) combined with a slurry accumulator and to feed this into a rheodiecaster for near net shape components, or a rheoextruder for continuous extruded profiles. Owing to the intensive forced convection in the TSSM, both inclusions and impurity elements (usually as intermetallic compounds in the solidified microstructure) will be divided into extremely fine particles and dispersed uniformly throughout the entire casting, eliminating/reducing the detrimental effects to ductility and corrosion resistance. This will result in extensive materials re-use, producing castings and extruded sections of aluminium and magnesium alloys made from selected combinations of post consumer scrap (PCS) supplied by Norton Aluminium and magnesium diecasting scrap supplied by Meridian. The mechanical performance and corrosion properties of the rheoformed products will be assessed against current production aluminium and magnesium castings and wrought products made from conventional primary metal based melts. For magnesium the emphasis of the project will be on production of rheodiecastings with a much smaller activity on wrought products, whilst for aluminium the emphasis will be both on high performance castings and on wrought products, particularly rheoextrusions. The work at BCAST will focus on the following aspects: (1) As the technology provider, BCAST team will focus on developing the rheoforming technologies, particularly the rheo-diecasting and the rheoextrusion processes, for upcycling light alloy scrap into high quality components for automotive and other general engineering applications. This will include design, commissioning and optimisation of the rheoextruder, integration of the rheoextruder with the slurry supply system. (2) The BCAST team will characterise the chemical compositions, microstructures, mechanical properties and corrosion resistance of rheoformed products produced from different scrap sources. The results will feed into the process optimisation programme as guidelines, and will also be used to understand the relationships between chemical composition, processing conditions and engineering performance. (3) The BCAST team will assist the industrial scale trials for rheoforming Al scrap at Norton Aluminium and for rheo-diecasting of magnesium scrap at Meridian. The project will develop a unique UK partnership of material producers, recyclers, technology providers and product manufacturers to develop a novel processing route for increasing the re-use and recycled content of light alloy materials by upcycling into higher-value products. Such a collaborative development will enable rapid UK commercial exploitation and will reduce dependency on imported products.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/G022674/1
    Funder Contribution: 183,316 GBP

    There are clear drivers in the transport industry towards lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions through the introduction of designs involving combinations of different material classes, such as steel, titanium, magnesium and aluminium alloys, metal sheet and castings, and laminates in more efficient hybrid structures. The future direction of the transport industry will thus undoubtedly be based on multi-material solutions. This shift in design philosophy is already past the embryonic stage, with the introduction of aluminium front end steel body shells (BMW 5 series) and the integration of aluminium sheet and magnesium high pressure die castings in aluminium car bodies (e.g. Jaguar XK).Such material combinations are currently joined by fasteners, which are expensive and inefficient, as they are very difficult to weld by conventional technologies like electrical resistance spot, MIG arc, and laser welding. New advanced solid state friction based welding techniques can potentially overcome many of the issues associated with joining dissimilar material combinations, as they lower the overall heat input and do not melt the materials. This greatly reduces the tendency for poor bond strengths, due to interfacial reaction and solidification cracking, as well as damage to thermally sensitive materials like laminates and aluminium alloys used in automotive bodies, which are designed to harden during paint baking. Friction joining techniques are also far more efficient, resulting in energy savings of > 90% relative to resistance spot and laser welding, are more robust processes, and can be readily used in combination with adhesive bonding.This project, in close collaboration with industry (e.g. Jaguar - Land Rover, Airbus, Corus, Meridian, Novelis, TWI, Sonobond) will investigate materials and process issues associated with optimising friction joining of hybrid, more mass efficient structures, focusing on; Friction Stir, Friction Stir Spot, and High Power Ultrasonic Spot welding. The work will be underpinned by novel approaches to developing models of these exciting new processes and detailed analysis and modelling of key material interactions, such as interfacial bonding / reaction and weld microstructure formation.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/G022402/1
    Funder Contribution: 406,440 GBP

    There are clear drivers in the transport industry towards lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions through the introduction of designs involving combinations of different material classes, such as steel, titanium, magnesium and aluminium alloys, metal sheet and castings, and laminates in more efficient hybrid structures. The future direction of the transport industry will thus undoubtedly be based on multi-material solutions. This shift in design philosophy is already past the embryonic stage, with the introduction of aluminium front end steel body shells (BMW 5 series) and the integration of aluminium sheet and magnesium high pressure die castings in aluminium car bodies (e.g. Jaguar XK).Such material combinations are currently joined by fasteners, which are expensive and inefficient, as they are very difficult to weld by conventional technologies like electrical resistance spot, MIG arc, and laser welding. New advanced solid state friction based welding techniques can potentially overcome many of the issues associated with joining dissimilar material combinations, as they lower the overall heat input and do not melt the materials. This greatly reduces the tendency for poor bond strengths, due to interfacial reaction and solidification cracking, as well as damage to thermally sensitive materials like laminates and aluminium alloys used in automotive bodies, which are designed to harden during paint baking. Friction joining techniques are also far more efficient, resulting in energy savings of > 90% relative to resistance spot and laser welding, are more robust processes, and can be readily used in combination with adhesive bonding.This project, in close collaboration with industry (e.g. Jaguar - Land Rover, Airbus, Corus, Meridian, Novelis, TWI, Sonobond) will investigate materials and process issues associated with optimising friction joining of hybrid, more mass efficient structures, focusing on; Friction Stir, Friction Stir Spot, and High Power Ultrasonic Spot welding. The work will be underpinned by novel approaches to developing models of these exciting new processes and detailed analysis and modelling of key material interactions, such as interfacial bonding / reaction and weld microstructure formation.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/H026177/1
    Funder Contribution: 5,119,390 GBP

    The UK metal casting industry is a key player in the global market. It adds 2.6bn/year to the UK economy, employs directly around 30,000 people and produces 1.14 billion tons of metal castings, of which 37% is for direct export (Source: CMF, UK). It underpins the competitive position of every sector of UK manufacturing across automotive, aerospace, defence, energy and general engineering. However, its 500 companies are mainly SMEs, who are often not in a position to undertake the highest quality R&D necessary for them to remain competitive in global markets. The current EPSRC IMRC portfolio does not cover this important research area nor does it address this clear, compelling business need. We propose to establish IMRC-LiME, a 3-way centre of excellence for solidification research, to fill this distinctive and clear gap in the IMRC portfolio. IMRC-LiME will build on the strong metal casting centres already established at Brunel, Oxford and Birmingham Universities and their internationally leading capabilities and expertise to undertake both fundamental and applied solidification research in close collaborations with key industrial partners across the supply chain. It will support and provide opportunities for the UK metal casting industry and its customers to move up the value chain and to improve their business competitiveness. The main research theme of IMRC-LiME is liquid metal engineering, which is defined as the treatment of liquid metals by either chemical or physical means for the purpose of enhancing heterogeneous nucleation through manipulation of the chemical and physical nature of both endogenous (naturally occurring) and exogenous (externally added) nucleating particles prior to solidification processing. A prime aim of liquid metal engineering is to produce solidified metallic materials with fine and uniform microstructure, uniform composition, minimised casting defects and hence enhanced engineering performance. Our fundamental (platform) research theme will be centred on understanding the nucleation process and developing generic techniques for nucleation control; our user-led research theme will be focused on improving casting quality through liquid metal engineering prior to various casting processes. The initial focus will be mainly on light metals with expansion in the long term to a wide range of structural metals and alloys, to eventually include aluminium, magnesium, titanium, nickel, steel and copper. In the long-term IMRC-LiME will deliver: 1) A nucleation-centred solidification science, that represents a fundamental move away from the traditional growth-focused science of solidification. 2) A portfolio of innovative solidification processing technologies, that are capable of providing high performance metallic materials with little need for solid state deformation processing, representing a paradigm shift from the current solid state deformation based materials processing to a solidification centred materials engineering. 3) An optimised metallurgical industry, in which the demand for metallic materials can be met by an efficient circulation of existing metallic materials through innovative technologies for reuse, remanufacture, direct recycling and chemical conversion with limited additions of primary metal to sustain the circulation loop. This will lead to a substantial conservation of natural resources, a reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions while meeting the demand for metallic materials for economic growth and wealth creation.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/H020047/1
    Funder Contribution: 5,762,120 GBP

    To avoid global warming and our unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels, the UK's CO2 emissions are recommended to be reduced by 80% from current levels by 2050. Aerospace and automotive manufacturing are critical to the UK economy, with a turnover of 30 billion and employing some 600,000 worker. Applications for light alloys within the transport sector are projected to double in the next decade. However, the properties and cost of current light alloy materials, and the associated manufacturing processes, are already inhibiting progress. Polymer composites are too expensive for body structures in large volume vehicle production and difficult to recycle. First generation, with a high level of recycling, full light alloy aluminium and magnesium vehicles in production are cheaper and give similar weight savings (~ 40%) and life cycle CO2 footprint to low cost composites. Computer-based design tools are also playing an increasing role in industry and allow, as never before, the optimisation of complex component architectures for increased mass efficiency. High performance alloys are still dominant in aeroengine applications and will provide ~ 30% of the structural components of future aircraft designs, where they will have to be increasingly produced in more intricate component shapes and interfaced with composite materials.To achieve further weight reductions, a second generation of higher performance light alloy design solutions are thus required that perform reliably in service, are recyclable, and have more complex product forms - produced with lower cost, energy efficient, manufacturing processes. With design optimisation, and by combining the best attributes of advanced high strength Al and Mg alloys with composites, laminates, and cheaper steel products, it will be possible to produce step change in performance with cost-effective, highly mass efficient, multi-material structures.This roadmap presents many challenges to the materials community, with research urgently required address the science necessary to solve the following critical issues: How do we make more complex shapes in higher performance lower formability materials, while achieving the required internal microstructure, texture, surface finish and, hence, service and cosmetic properties, and with lower energy requirements? How do we join different materials, such as aluminium and magnesium, with composites, laminates, and steel to produce hybrid materials and more mass efficient cost-effective designs? How do we protect such multi-material structures, and their interfaces against corrosion and environmental degradation?Examples of the many scientific challenges that require immediate attention include, how can we: (i) capture the influence of a materials deformation mechanisms, microstructure and texture on formability, thus allowing computer models to be used to rapidly optimise forming for difficult alloys in terms of component shape and energy requirements; (ii) predict and control detrimental interfacial reactions in dissimilar joints; (iii) take advantage of innovative ideas, like using lasers to 'draw on' more formable microstructures in panels, where it is needed; (v) use smart self healing coating technologies to protect new alloys and dissimilar joints in service, (vi) mitigate against the impact of contamination from recycling on growth of oxide barrier coating, etc.A high priority for the Programme is to help fill the skills gap in metallurgical and corrosion science, highlighted in the EPSRC Review of Materials Research (IMR2008), by training the globally competitive, multidisciplinary, and innovative materials engineers needed by UK manufacturing. The impact of the project will be enhanced by a professionally managed, strategic, research Programme and through promoting a high international profile of the research output, as well as by performing an advocacy role for materials engineering to the general public.

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