The University of Nottingham has led the team that has secured £10.3m in government funding for new research into pioneering composite manufacturing techniques, Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister has announced.
The multi-million pound Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant is a major research investment for the UK community, hosted by the University’s Faculty of Engineering and working closely with the University of Bristol - both of which have established reputations for composites research.
The EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Hub aims to accelerate the potential of advanced polymer composite materials for automated manufacturing technologies, addressing automation and high rate processing; state-of-the-art simulation techniques; multifunctional materials and structures; advanced inspection technologies; recycling and re-use.
The new materials will also feature in components and structures for demanding applications, particularly in the aerospace, transportation, construction and energy sectors.
The Hub is formed from a partnership between Nottingham and Bristol Universities, with initial partners or “spokes” at Cranfield, Imperial College London, Manchester and Southampton.
Hub researchers will work in close partnership with multiple industrial partners.
At Nottingham, the Hub will draw together more than 70 composites experts and house them at the University’s new flagship Advanced Manufacturing Building, which is currently under construction on its Jubilee Campus and due for completion next year.
Professor Andrew Long, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham will lead the Future Composites Manufacturing Hub.
He said: “We are absolutely delighted to be leading this initiative, which aims to underpin the growth of the British composites sector. This award will ensure that the UK academic community remains at the forefront of composites manufacturing research well into the next decade.”
The Future Composites Manufacturing Hub is one of six EPSRC-funded research hubs announced by BEIS that will explore and improve new manufacturing techniques. The other Hubs will be led by Cardiff University, the universities Huddersfield, Sheffield and Strathclyde, and UCL.
Announcing this major investment in the UK’s manufacturing research base, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Developing new innovative manufacturing techniques will help UK industry create new products, explore more business opportunities and ensure the UK becomes more competitive and productive.
“This investment will lay the foundations to allow industry and our world-leading universities to thrive for years to come and is exactly the type of project that our upcoming Industrial Strategy will look to support.”
The announcement follows the government’s Autumn Statement commitment to invest an additional £2bn per year for research and innovation by 2020/21 to unlock the full potential of the UK’s research base in areas such as robotics and biotechnology.
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “EPSRC is pleased to be at the forefront of the drive to keep the UK a prosperous and productive nation.”
All industrial partners in the Future Composites Manufacturing Hub: Warwick Manufacturing Group, National Composites Centre, Coriolis Composites UK, Gordon Murray Design, Pentaxia, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Network Rail Ltd, GKN Aerospace, Airbus Group Limited, Composite Integration Ltd, Sigmatex UK Ltd, M Wright & Sons Ltd, GE Aviation, ESI Group, Hexcel Composites Ltd, Scott Bader Co Ltd, Aston Martin Lagonda (Gaydon), Luxfer Gas Cylinders Ltd, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Bentley Motors Ltd, Manufacturing Technology Centre.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK for research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.
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