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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V001809/1
Title: Practice and theory in the design of martensitic steels
Principal Investigator: Rainforth, Professor WM
Other Investigators:
Gong, Dr P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Rolls-Royce Plc SKF Group (International) ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe
Department: Materials Science and Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2020 Ends: 31 August 2023 Value (£): 446,772
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
EP/V001787/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
10 Jun 2020 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 10 and 11 June 2020 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form


Written records of the quenching of steel exist as early as the first century of the European Iron Age.

In Homer we find "... As when the smith an hatchet or a large axe ... plunges the hissing blade deep in cold water: whence the strength of steel ..."

Archeological evidence for quenched and tempered steel exists from several centuries earlier. Tempering has been regarded as essential in order to mitigate the extreme hardness and brittleness of as-quenched steel. On the other hand the strength limit has been reached in low cost hardened martensitic and hard-drawn pearlitic steels.

We propose to push the envelope making the radical move of dispensing with the tempering step and designing new multiphase, as quenched, tough, lean (low cost, resource efficient) steel (MATLeS). The key is to exploit recently acquired understanding of the plasticity of body centered cubic metals; work hardening; and interplay between dissolved carbon, dislocations and metal carbonitrides. This will be put together with novel state-of-the-art experimental techniques: in particular precession electron microscopy and tensile stress relaxation. In powerful combination these will furnish us with the means to manipulate and exploit the hierarchical lath martensite microstructure (HiLaMM). The new steels we design will have excellent green credentials: resource efficiency, recyclability, high strength-to-weight ratio. Our vision is toward the electric vehicle economy, light-weighting of structural offshore wind farm components and super-strong cables for undersea and civil engineering projects. Making full-circle, our outcomes will inform modern theories in materials science, advancing solutions to one of the world's outstanding scientific questions: what is the nature of work hardening? (Why can I not straighten the poker you have just bent?)

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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk