Materials engineering - metals and alloys
Understanding, modelling and processing of metals and alloys with respect to the properties and material behaviour and development of novel materials.
We will support world-class materials expertise that underpins sustainable growth aligned to key sectors such as automotive, aerospace, and energy (e.g. light-weighting, metal systems for demanding environments). We will work with the community to establish and nurture interdisciplinary links addressing the microstructure/processing/performance triangle.
Research opportunities will focus on reducing material demand through resource efficiency and reducing lead times to product development through greater understanding of the microstructure/processing/performance triangle, highlighted within the EPSRC Productive and Resilient Nation Outcomes. We will work with the community to establish and nurture links with the manufacturing sector and researchers there, linking to the Manufacturing Technologies research area and focusing on the circular economy and on reducing energy demand for material production. Technology transfer and uptake must be ensured while maintaining a healthy research base.
There is a significant opportunity to bring together advances in modelling and experimentation to increase the rate of discovery and development of new materials. Over the current Delivery Plan, the community should work towards understanding these challenges and establishing solutions.
Over the course of the Delivery Plan, we aim to:
- Support the community to connect UK research, through a cross-disciplinary approach, in response to the Advanced Materials Strategy (Evidence source 1) as well as facilitate links with the Sir Henry Royce Institute. A key challenge is to sustain and develop interdisciplinary relationships, enhancing a portfolio that addresses novel research at the interface between engineering, physical sciences and mathematical sciences
- Encourage the community to undertake research that links through to other materials-relevant research areas (e.g. Performance and Inspection of Mechanical Structures and Systems, Manufacturing Technologies, Continuum Mechanics, Numerical Analysis, Functional Ceramics and Inorganics, Materials for Energy Applications, Nuclear Fission, Energy Storage, Resource Efficiency, Materials Engineering - Ceramics and Materials Engineering - Composites)
- Work alongside key stakeholders to provide the next generation of skilled researchers for both the academic and the industrial sector in the UK, from PhD to early-career level. It is essential that this talent is nurtured and retained in later career stages, ensuring that academic expertise is preserved following the completion of studentships
Investments in this research area are world-leading and strongly aligned to national needs and industrial challenges. Overall, investment in research has remained constant, with an increase in training investment through the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Technology (CASE) allocations, and the 2013 Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) exercise. The talent pipeline is healthy, with a number of fellows and the third largest suite of PhD/EngD students funded through EPSRC's three doctoral training mechanisms.
The formation of the Sir Henry Royce Institute and critical innovation drivers such as the High Value Manufacturing Catapult will have a strong influence on the research landscape, so strategic alignment and integration across the landscape will be important. We recognise this area’s contribution to national strategic needs, including industrial strategies for the automotive, aerospace and nuclear energy sectors (Evidence source 2,3,4,5,6,7,8). This research area has potential to be disruptive and transformative in these sectors and is critical to the sustained health of advanced materials research in the UK (Evidence source 9).
EPSRC and government interventions (e.g. the Liquid Metal Engineering Hub, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Diamond Light Source, the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, SuperSTEM, the National Nuclear User Facility and the National Nuclear Lab) have significantly increased access to world-class facilities across the UK. Future investments (e.g. the Sir Henry Royce Institute) will further increase this.
Multidisciplinary research is substantial in this area, enabling an array of associated challenges to be addressed. There are strong connections to other research areas (see ‘Strategic Focus’ above) and there remains a need to sustain and improve these links.
Will significantly contribute to many Ambitions, including:
P1: Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies
This will benefit from a cross-disciplinary approach to advanced materials research, along with development of a greater understanding of the microstructure/processing/performance triangle.
P5: Transform to a sustainable society, with a focus on the circular economy
This will benefit from reducing material demand through resource efficiency, and from linking to Manufacturing Technologies to support the reuse and re-manufacture of materials, joining technologies for multimaterial systems, and closed-loop recycling.
- Advanced Materials Leadership Council (ALMC), Vision Papers 2016: Advanced Structural Materials – Materials for Demanding Environments, Design of Materials and Processes, (2016)
- EPSRC, Reports from the Materials Research Exchange 2014 (PDF), (2014)
- Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Building Momentum for UK Aerospace, (2015)
- ATI, Technology Strategy and Portfolio Update 2016, (2016)
- Automotive Council UK, Driving Success: A Strategy for Growth and Sustainability in the UK (PDF) Automotive Sector, (2013)
- HM Government, The UK’s Nuclear Future (PDF), (2013)
- Metals Forum, Vision 2030: The UK Metals Industry’s New Strategic Approach (PDF), (2015)
- European Commission, Metallurgy Made in and for Europe (PDF), (2014)
- EPSRC, International Perceptions of the UK Materials Research Base (PDF), (2008)
- Research Excellence Framework (2014), Panel B Report, UOA 13: Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials (pdf), (2015)
Research area connections
This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.
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EPSRC support by research area in materials engineering - metals and alloys (GoW)
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