EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K008749/1
Title: Material Systems for Extreme Environments
Principal Investigator: Binner, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Reece, Professor M Lee, Professor W Finnis, Professor MW
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AFRL AWE Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL
European Center of Ceramics European Space Agency (International) Kennametal
Kerneos Lucideon Ltd Missouri University of Science and Tech
National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) National Physical Laboratory National Research Council (CNR) Italy
Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK) Teledyne Scientific and Imaging LLC The Morgan Crucible Company
Tokamak Solutions UK Ltd TWI Ltd Vesuvius UK
Department: Materials
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 February 2013 Ends: 31 December 2013 Value (£): 4,280,020
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Oct 2012 Programme Grant & Fellowships Interviews - 9 & 10 October 2012 (Eng) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The conditions in which materials are required to operate are becoming ever more challenging. Operating temperatures and pressures are increasing in all areas of manufacture, energy generation, transport and environmental clean-up. Often the high temperatures are combined with severe chemical environments and exposure to high energy and, in the nuclear industry, to ionising radiation. The production and processing of next-generation materials capable of operating in these conditions will be non-trivial, especially at the scale required in many of these applications. In some cases, totally new compositions, processing and joining strategies will have to be developed. The need for long-term reliability in many components means that defects introduced during processing will need to be kept to an absolute minimum or defect-tolerant systems developed, e.g. via fibre reinforcement. Modelling techniques that link different length and time scales to define the materials chemistry, microstructure and processing strategy are key to speeding up the development of these next-generation materials. Further, they will not function in isolation but as part of a system. It is the behaviour of the latter that is crucial, so that interactions between different materials, the joining processes, the behaviour of the different parts under extreme conditions and how they can be made to work together, must be understood.

Our vision is to develop the required understanding of how the processing, microstructures and properties of materials systems operating in extreme environments interact to the point where materials with the required performance can be designed and then manufactured. Aligned with the Materials Genome Initiative in the USA, we will integrate hierarchical and predictive modelling capability in fields where experiments are extremely difficult and expensive.

The team have significant experience of working in this area. Composites based on 'exotic' materials such as zirconium diborides and silicon carbide have been developed for use as leading edges for hypersonic vehicles over a 3 year, DSTL funded collaboration between the 3 universities associated with this proposal. World-leading achievements include densifying them in <10 mins using a relatively new technique known as spark plasma sintering (SPS); measuring their thermal and mechanical properties at up to 2000oC; assessing their oxidation performance at extremely high heat fluxes and producing fibre-reinforced systems that can withstand exceptionally high heating rates, e.g. 1000oC s-1, and temperatures of nearly 3000oC for several minutes.

The research planned for this Programme Grant is designed to both spin off this knowledge into materials processing for nuclear fusion and fission, aerospace and other applications where radiation, oxidation and erosion resistance at very high temperatures are essential and to gain a deep understanding of the processing-microstructure-property relations of these materials and how they interact with each other by undertaking one of the most thorough assessments ever, allowing new and revolutionary compositions, microstructures and composite systems to be designed, manufactured and tested. A wide range of potential crystal chemistries will be considered to enable identification of operational mechanisms across a range of materials systems and to achieve paradigm changing developments. The Programme Grant would enable us to put in place the expertise required to produce a chain of knowledge from prediction and synthesis through to processing, characterisation and application that will enable the UK to be world leading in materials for harsh environments.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk