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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/D029201/1
Title: New Portfolio Partnership - Light alloys for Environmentally Sustainable Transport
Principal Investigator: Thompson, Professor GE
Other Investigators:
Skeldon, Professor P Robson, Professor J Withers, Regius Professor P
Bate, Professor PS Prangnell, Professor P Humphreys, Professor FJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Materials
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 April 2005 Ends: 30 September 2010 Value (£): 6,725,687
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The individual metals of aluminium, magnesium and titanium, when mixed with other metals, comprise the so-called light alloys. Their low density and reasonable strength and stiffness combine to generate high strength to weight ratio materials that are attractive for transport applications, e.g. automotive, aerospace, light rail and shipping. Importantly, weight savings associated with light alloys compared with conventional steels contribute to significant fuel saving and environmental protection. Consequently, light alloys are the materials of choice in the transport sector, with major additional benefits from recyclability. However, as a result of increasing competition, there is a need for further improvements in materials performance, the ability to support optimised structural designs, a lowering of manufacturing costs and a clearly recognised ability to perform reliably in service. The Portfolio Partnership recognises the strategic importance of light alloys and the difficulty of processing into sheet or bar, forming into complex shapes and joining by welding. Additionally, there is a need for surface engineering/modification to control the degradation of properties in service and to maintain performance and environmental compliance. Thus, an in-depth research programme is proposed, supported by research scientists with expertise across many areas, that targets improvements in light alloy properties and reduction in production costs, thereby allowing further exploitation of the potential of the alloys. In order to control light alloy properties, it is traditional to understand the internal structure on a microscale, whereby alloying elements and the manufacturing route influence the grain size, local chemistry and mechanical properties. However, the processing route also significantly influences the near-surface behaviour, which may be altered dramatically from the bulk material. The effective progression of the research will be assisted by the sophisticated equipment available to the Partnership, enabling the controlling influences to be identified and understood from the nanoscale upwards and thereby providing solutions to the engineering difficulties introduced earlier. In the Partnership, the research considers the bulk, near-surface and surface properties, and their inter-relationships, which distinguishes it from research elsewhere. Further, the size of the partnership, with its associated interactions, allows an exciting and innovative programme of research to be undertaken readily and effectively without unnecessary overlap. By collaborating with the transport sector, transfer of knowledge from both sides is assisted and the effectiveness of the solutions assessed rapidly. The research programme, whilst based in Manchester, will also involve collaboration with European and more distant scientists and organisations, enhancing the national and international recognition of the research. By focusing on the processing, forming and joining of light alloys, with attention paid to the structure utilising sophisticated experimental methods, the overall material properties and performance will be characterised. New alloys may be designed and the properties of others optimised by new or improved methods. These processing methods will enable components to be manufactured more cheaply and with much less waste of material than that associated with the current methods. The results of the work will be used for modelling and prediction, assisting the development of the most effective routes for treatment of surfaces by lasers or for joining alloys by friction stir welding. The outputs of the research will be presented to scientists at national and international meetings and to industry at workshops and symposia; awarness at the school level and to the general public will also be promoted.
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk