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.
According to The University, the multi-million pound Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant is a major research investment for the UK community, hosted by the its 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.”
Industrial partners in the Future Composites Manufacturing Hub are: Warwick Manufacturing Group, National Composites Centre, Coriolis Composites UK, Gordon Murray Design, Pentaxia, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Network Rail, GKN Aerospace, Airbus Group, Composite Integration, Sigmatex UK, M Wright & Sons, GE Aviation, ESI Group, Hexcel Composites, Scott Bader, Aston Martin Lagonda (Gaydon), Luxfer Gas Cylinders, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Bentley Motors, Manufacturing Technology Centre.