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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N026136/1
Title: Geometric Mechanics of Solids: new analysis of modern engineering materials
Principal Investigator: Jivkov, Professor AP
Other Investigators:
Margetts, Dr L
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Amec Foster Wheeler UK EDF Energy NAFEMS Ltd
Playgen Simpleware Ltd
Department: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 February 2017 Ends: 31 January 2022 Value (£): 1,340,905
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Algebra & Geometry
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Sep 2016 Eng Fellowship Interviews Sep 2016 Announced
02 Jun 2016 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 1 and 2 June 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The cost and safety of the important elements of our life - energy, transport, manufacturing - depend on the engineering materials we use to fabricate components and structures. Engineers need to answer the question of how fit for purpose is a particular component or a system: a pressure vessel in a nuclear reactor; an airplane wing; a bridge; a gas turbine; at both the design stage and throughout their working life. The current cost of unexpected structural failures, 4% of GDP, illustrates that the answers given with the existing engineering methods are not always reliable. These methods are largely phenomenological, i.e. rely on laboratory length- and time-scale experiments to capture the overall material behaviour. Extrapolating such behaviour to real components in real service conditions carries uncertainties. The grand problem of current methods is that by treating materials as continua, i.e. of uniformly distributed mass, they cannot inherently describe the finite nature of the materials aging mechanisms leading to failure. If we learn how to overcome the constraint of the lab-based phenomenology, we will be able to make predictions for structural behaviour with higher confidence, reducing the cost of construction and maintenance of engineering assets and thus the cost of goods and services to all individuals and society. For example, by extending the life of one civil nuclear reactor the produced electricity each hour will cost £10k-15k less than from a new built nuclear reactor, or from a conventional power plant.

This project is about the creation of a whole new technology for high-fidelity design and assessment of engineering structures. I will explore an original geometric theory of solids to overcome the phenomenological constraint, produce a pioneering software platform for structural analysis, validate the theory at several length scales, and demonstrate to the engineers how the new technology solves practical problems for which the present methods ar inadequate.

In contrast to the classical methods, the engineering materials will be seen as discrete collections of finite entities, or cells; importantly this is not a discretization of a continuum, such as those used in the current numerical methods, but a reflection of how materials organise at any length scale of observation - from atomic through to the polycrystalline aggregates forming engineering components. The cellular structure is characterised by distinct elements - cells, faces, edges and nodes - and the theory proposes an inventive way to describe how such a structure behaves by linking energy and entropy to the geometric properties of these elements - volumes, areas, lengths, positions. This theory will be implemented in a highly efficient software platform by adopting and modernising existing algorithms and developing new ones for massively parallel computations, which will enable engineers and scientists to exploit the impending acceleration in hardware power. With the expected leaps of computing power over the next five years (1018 operations per second by 2020) the new technology will allow for calculating the behaviour of engineering components and structures zooming in and out across length-scales from the atomic up to the structural. The verification and validation of the theory at multiple length-scales are now possible due to exceptionally powerful experimental techniques, such as lab- or synchrotron-based tomography, combined by image analysis techniques, such as digital volume correlation. Once verified, the technology will be applied to a series of engineering problems of direct industrial relevance, such as cleavage and ductile fracture and fatigue crack growth, providing convincing demonstrations to the engineering community. The product of the work will make a step change in the modelling and simulation of structures, suitable for the analysis of high value, high risk high reward engineering cases.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk