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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V037234/1
Title: ESTEEM: Energy efficient and Safe out-of-oven manufacTuring for compositE materials with intEgrated Multifunctionalities
Principal Investigator: Zhang, Dr H
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ELG Carbon Fibre Ltd. LMK Thermosafe Ltd Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Warwick
Department: School of Engineering & Materials Scienc
Organisation: Queen Mary University of London
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 October 2021 Ends: 30 September 2024 Value (£): 395,947
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design Engineering Manufacturing Machine & Plant
Materials Processing Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Feb 2021 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 2 and 3 February 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Advanced composites have been used extensively in high performance lightweight applications ranging from aerospace, automotive to renewable energy sectors, with a global market of composite products over £60bn by 2017 together with a compound annual growth rate of 7% since 2011, and a projected £10bn growth in sales of composites in UK industry by 2030.

However, with the ever increasing demand for zero-impact and sustainable development, the environmental impact of each stage from composite production to their end-of-life options should be considered to take the advantage of this high growth rate in the composite sector. Three important questions remain for the clean growth of the sector: (1) how can we manufacture the composites in an environmentally sustainable way, i.e. reduce the energy consumption for the rapid growing production needs; (2) how to effectively reduce, recycle, and reclaim valuable materials from end-of-life composite wastes; (3) how to truly reveal the lightweight feature of composites and reduce the overdesign in composites while avoiding unexpected catastrophic structural failures.

This project will address all three questions by materials and manufacturing innovation, creating a circular economy for the composite industry by providing an extremely energy efficient and intrinsically safe manufacturing method based on recycled composite wastes as new functional fillers.

With only 1% of energy consumption compared to current manufacturing methods, high performance composites with integrated new functions like deformation and damage sensing as well as de-icing will be manufactured without needs of even an oven. This new method will be tuned to fully comply with the processing requirements of existing high performance composite systems, reducing costs in capital investment, operational, and maintenance aspects. The new functions will also provide real-time health monitoring of components' structural integrity to enable condition based maintenance with high reliability.

This research will be supported by a strong joint force from both academia (WMG, University of Warwick, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US) and UK industry (ELG Carbon fibres Ltd, and LMK Thermosafe Ltd), with leading expertise from polymer and nanocomposite processing, smart composites, to carbon fibre recycling and intrinsically safe heating applications, to ensure a great success of the project and a large impact on relevant research fields, as well as a direct contribution to addressing the UK Grand Challenges of "clean growth" and "future of mobility" and international competitiveness of the UK economy, with world leading development in lightweighting in transportation, manufacturing and efficient use of resources.
Key Findings
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