New research centre aims to rejuvinate UK metals manufacturing

Brunel University has launched a £9million metal engineering centre in a bid to rejuvenate the UK's flagging manufacturing sector. The Manufacturing Research Centre aims to make a significant contribution to the £17billion a year metals industry through the development of advanced technologies for reuse, remanufacture and recycling of secondary metals. The centre is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Professor of Metallurgy at the university, Zhongyun Fan, will lead the Liquid Metals Engineering (LiME) Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre. He said: "The metal industry has traditionally been strong in the UK, but in recent years it has fallen into decline due to the economic downturn and competition overseas. As a sector that employs 400,000 people and brings billions into the economy, the Government has recognised the need to invest in new research and new technologies that will secure a future for key manufacturing industries depend on a supply of high performance metallic materials."

Prof Fan aims to develop manufacturing technologies that cut carbon emissions by millions of tonnes, reduce energy use by trillions of KW hours and save millions of tonnes of natural resources every year - without jeopardising efficient production of high quality metallic materials.

A total of 15 industrial partners from across the supply chain, as well as industry trade bodies and knowledge transfer networks, will work with the research project and contribute £4.6m to its development. The remaining investment from EPSRC will total £4.5m over a five year period. The Universities of Oxford and Birmingham are also partners in the project which will operate as a single entity across the three universities.

Prof Geoff Rodgers, pro-vice-chancellor for Research at Brunel, said: "The launch of LiME is a significant event for Brunel University. It positions Brunel as an internationally leading contributor to research in manufacturing, a sector vitally important to the UK economy. The LiME programme will develop a portfolio of innovative metal processing technologies, which will allow greater levels of metal recycling, thereby substantially reducing both the worlds' energy consumption and its CO2 emissions. Access to these technologies will allow the UK metal casting industry and its customers to improve their competitiveness in global markets."

News of the project was announced in January by Lord Mandelson, the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, as part of a £70m investment in a wave of EPSRC centres across the UK.

Chris Shaw

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