Creation of a National Innovation Playground to Widen the Operational Envelope for Tribological PVD Coatings

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


A team with unique and complementary experience has been formed to create an Innovation Playground for application-driven pioneering research in PVD coatings for tribological applications. Four leading centres in three institutions will come together to exploit their real and significant synergies. This proposal is for capital equipment which, together with our extensive existing facilities, will underpin our ambitions and will enable the UK to compete with any of the other international centres. The investment provides unique capability for this consortium which will reach out to other academic groups and industrial users. The proposed research is based around three core thematic areas; defined because of our combined strengths in these and also the tribological challenges that exist. The Innovation Playground will secure specific deliverables for these three strategically important high priority application sectors:1. Artificial Human Joint Replacements - for health & well being -> Lengthening life, improving mobility and independent living and reducing ion release for younger and more active patients. To reduce the burden on the NHS. 2. Automotive OEM Engine Parts - for reduced energy consumption - The immediate focus is primarily on fuel economy and improved surface/lubricant interactions to realize lower interfacial friction and so minimize energy losses, delivering performance improvements and a reduced carbon footprint.3. New age coated cutting tools for Manufacturing Ti, Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) and metal-matrix composite aerospace components - for materials conservation and manufacturing efficiency gains by lowering energy consumption in manufacturing > The main emphasis will be increasing cutting tool durability and reliability under very high operating temperatures (>1000C), suppressing adverse chemical degradation and reducing dependence on Cl-containing fluids during machining operations under dry or minimum lubrication conditions (MLC machining). There is industry pressure to increase the performance of the tool/lubricant system and advanced PVD coating technology can address this need.

Planned Impact

Academic beneficiaries are described in a separate section. This proposal is written to develop what we refer to as an Innovation Playground and it is specifically focussed towards enabling the high quality science and engineering research to address some of the most challenging industrial problems which, for several decades have not been solved. By investing in unique equipment for the production, characterisation and assessment of thin film coatings the existing facilities and expertise in the three universities in this field will be pooled to capitalise on the synergies. One of the main beneficiaries will be UK industry and, as the letters of support demonstrate, this will be across a number of sectors and specifically the three mentioned as priority in the proposal. How will they benefit? This really depends on the level of interaction; the four research groups have extensive experience with working with industry as demonstrated by their combined live grants of approx 10m in direct funding from industry and they will be keen to interact with industry at all levels. The benefits are likely to be around the optimisation of surface engineering solutions for challenging problems where material durability and performance is an issue. The benefits will be reduced failures and associated costs, increased efficiency and reliability. Ultimately for the companies that engage with this activity we will expect to impact competitiveness. We will interact with industry from the pure research through to the knowledge transfer and it is expected that there will be Knowledge Transfer Partnerships to take some of the developments through to fruition. How will we manage engagement with industry? We have a plan to facilitate interactions with new industrial contacts through the industrial advisory committee and we will obviously be targetting our exisiting industrial sponsors to engage with the new facility and exploit its capability. We are expecting that in Years 1 and 2 of the facility we can secure funding for at least 4 fully funded studentships per year from industry which will involve combinations of the research groups. We have been in communication with Yorkshire Forward and will apply for funding on 4th January 2010 for revenue funding to specifically use the new capability in Yorkshire to assist Yorkshire companies and stimulate more investment by them in research.


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Description This was an equipment grant and so the outcomes for this will be enduring as the equipment continues to be used for numerous projects. The main discoveries have been around
- optimisation of Diamond Like Carbon coatings for automotive applications (including doping elements)
- coatings for oil and gas based on C
- Addition of F gas into the near surface layer for lubrication
Exploitation Route This will continue through our CDT in Integrated Tribology. We also have extremely strong links with industry and the equipment is continuing to be exploited through these links.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Transport

Description Exploitation through our main partner Hauzer who have taken the microwave plasma results and used these to build a capability in his technology which is unique in UK.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Economic