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Country: United Kingdom
3 Projects, page 1 of 1
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/J006475/1
    Funder Contribution: 98,494 GBP

    Project summary There are growing global concerns over the long-term availability of secure supplies of metals needed by society. Metal consumption is increasing as a result of burgeoning global population and the requirements of new and/or environmental technologies. Of particular concern are the 'critical metals', so called because of their growing economic importance and high risk of supply shortage. Most 'critical' to the UK and EU are antimony, beryllium, cobalt, gallium, germanium, indium, lithium, magnesium, niobium, platinum group metals, rare earth elements, rhenium, tantalum and tungsten. Several countries (e.g. USA, Japan, South Korea) are developing strategies to address these risks, based on diversifying the global supply chain, improving knowledge of and access to indigenous resources, and boosting substitution and recycling. In the UK the House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology has highlighted that accurate and reliable information on the potential scarcity of metals should be made available to help businesses plan to mitigate these risks. This project aims to provide an authoritative, accessible and sustainable knowledge base on critical metals to underpin economic growth, contribute to green technology innovation, reduce resource risks to business, improve national security and enhance the competitiveness of UK PLC. It will promote effective knowledge exchange between industry (extractive, processing and manufacturing), the investment community, government, regulators, academia and other stakeholder groups on all aspects of the life cycle of critical metals to identify key issues relating to supply security and environmental limits. It will thus contribute to the development of coordinated national policies for the critical metals and identify the actions needed for their implementation including associated programmes of research. The project will involve: 1. Publication of a Critical Metals Handbook, to provide a unique, authoritative, one-stop source of information on diverse aspects of the critical metals, including geology, deposits, processing, applications, environmental issues, markets and future supply-demand scenarios. It will be written for the non-specialist by international experts. 2. Holding Critical Metals KE workshops, to promote dialogue among all stakeholder groups concerned with the critical metals supply chain. These will disseminate the core knowledge from the Handbook and will provide industry sectors that rely on critical metals, such as aerospace, clean energy and automotive, with the opportunity to identify key issues of concern. A synthesis report will identify the challenges for raw material supply over various timescales, the key areas in which breakthroughs are required and recommended action plans. 3. Development of new web pages for the non-specialist, to provide essential background information on critical metals and on the key issues related to their security of supply. The completed project will provide a foundation for the continuing provision of analysis and advice to users throughout the metals supply chain and for promoting ongoing dialogue with government. It will also facilitate the development of cross-sectoral linkages, bringing industry users into contact with specialist researchers from all parts of the supply chain, to contribute to the development of a coherent integrated critical metals strategy.

  • 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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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/G007217/1
    Funder Contribution: 1,565,450 GBP

    Achieving the carbon target for steel and aluminium requires an industry-wide transformation which will result in new business models and new metal flows. The proposal aims to identify credible scenarios for achieving the target, to specify the barriers to achieving them, and to define the economic and policy measures required to drive change. In parallel, the proposal aims to deliver basic technology research that will allow more options for a future materially efficient steel and aluminium economy.It is widely agreed that a cut of at least 60% in global greenhouse gas emissions will be required by 2050 to limit the adverse effects of climate change. Steel and aluminium are responsible for 8% of global energy related emissions. Industry efforts to date have focused on reducing energy in primary production, and recycling metal by melting and re-casting. However, demand for both steel and aluminium is forecast to double, recycling rates are already around 60-70% and the most optimistic projections for energy efficiency improvements deliver only 30% reduction per unit output of material. Efficiency improvements alone are not sufficient, but the 2050 target can be achieved if, in addition to existing measures, energy used in converting ingots to products is halved, the volume of metal used in each application is reduced, and a substantial fraction of metal is re-used without melting. In pursuing this strategy, this proposal is aligned with the EPSRC strategic theme on energy demand reduction.The need for clarity about the physical implications of responding to the carbon target has become a major priority in the metal producing and using industry. Without the work described in this proposal, it is not possible for the government, industry and the public to understand and negotiate the choices they must collectively make in order to meet the carbon target in this sector. Accordingly, this proposal comes with support of 2 million in committed effort from 20 global companies, all with operations in the UK. The business activities of the consortium span primary metal production, conventional recycling, equipment manufacture, road transport, construction, aerospace, packaging and knowledge transfer.The work of the fellowship will be split between business analysis and technology innovation themes. The business analysis theme will identify future scenarios, barriers and a roadmap for meeting the target. This work will include specific analysis of future metal flows, application of a global economic model and the analysis of policy measures. The technology innovation theme aims to optimize the requirements for metal use through novel manufacturing process design, to increase material and energy efficiency in forming and finishing, and to develop solid-state closed-loop recycling for metals. Both themes will be developed in collaboration with the consortium, and will also draw on an international scientific panel and a cross-disciplinary advisory panel in Cambridge.The work will lead to two major reports for wide distribution, direct dissemination into the partner companies, training courses, technology assessments and physical demonstrations of the technology innovations. These will include a demonstration for public engagement. The results of the work on steel and aluminium will be used to stimulate interest among business leaders in other sectors, and will form the basis for a longer term Centre for Low Carbon Materials Processing in Cambridge.The Leadership Fellowship offers a unique and timely opportunity to undertake the basic research required to drive a step-change in material efficiency, by demonstrating that a different flow of metal through the global economy is technically and economically possible, and by inspiring and informing those who can influence change.

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