COATED: Centre Of Advanced Training for Engineering Doctorates

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

Swansea University is the host for the EPSRC/TSB funded Innovation and Knowledge centre, the Sustainable Product
Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Industrial Coatings (SPECIFIC). The SPECIFIC IKC has ambitious targets to
create a new billion pound industry sector built on the principle of buildings as power-stations. The core collaborative
partners include leading UK research institutes (e.g. ICL and Bath Universities) and internationally leading industry groups
(e.g. Tata, BASF and Pilkington). Critically, the IKC is established after 9 months of operation in a purpose designed facility
including state of the art labs and scale up facilities (a pilot production line) with industry and academic team members
working together in a true open innovation model. Having established the centre and the core partnerships it is clear that to
deliver the ambitious targets and create the new UK lead industry in functionally coated construction products the key final
ingredient is the people. Whilst the existing team funded by EPSRC, TSB, the University and Industry is quite small (19
people in totality) the IKC is supported by a larger cohort of research students (currently 32 funded largely through ESF
sources). It is this critical mass of young, enthusiastic, open minded individuals that catalyses the atmosphere and initial
successes of the IKC. It is the aim for COATED that we can build on this initial momentum and support three entries of
seven EngD students onto a new EngD programme based entirely on functional coatings. We have secured the support of
the Welsh European funding office (WEFO) and Swansea University for one third of the funds. Our industry partners have
committed one third of the funds and as such we feel the proposal represents good economic value to EPSRC. This
EPSRC funding will be critical in enabling research partnerships with universities outside Wales (such as ICL, Bath and
Oxford) and with international companies with a UK footprint who are not based in the Principality. In addition, these
research engineers upon graduation will form a critical pillar of a knowledge transfer mechanism into the new industry
sector. This proposal builds on the long term innovative and successful EngD programmes run at Swansea on Steel
Technology introducing a new dimension of UK wide collaboration and with a clear focus on value creation for the UK
economy.
COATED represents an important expansion of EngD activity at Swansea and underpins the success of the IKC. The
ambitions of the SPECIFIC IKC to deliver new technology, jobs and wealth creation can only be realised with the mix of
experienced Technology Transfer Fellows, engaged industry and academic partners (provided through the IKC) and a
continued supply of open minded enthusiastic researchers that COATED can offer. A key new development will be the
engagement with Oxford, Bath and Imperial at EngD level as this will bring cluster activity within those institutions where
currently SPECIFIC has a single postdoctoral researcher. In addition, the EPSRC funding will allow for collaboration with
companies across the UK and with multinational partners with a UK footprint. A key output from COATED alongside the
technological and scientific innovations will be the people who will form part of the emerging new industry creating buildings
that are power-stations. The alignment of Welsh Government, Industry and EPSRC that this programme offers will deliver
these benefits with minimal financial contribution and could be an important model for how the funding organisations can
work successfully together in the future to deliver value to the UK economy.

Planned Impact

The Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) SPECIFIC has ambitious targets for new product development, job creation
and CO2 reduction with a primary mission to create buildings that are power-stations. The targets include,
- One third UK renewable energy production by 2020
- 6MT annual CO2 reduction target
- The creation of 5-10,000 jobs in the UK supply chain for new building products.
Underpinning these ambitious targets and a key to their successful and rapid achievement are the Engineering Doctorate
Research Engineers whose funding is sought in the current bid. The COATED proposal aims to address a key gap in the
portfolio of the IKC to enable:
- Greater engagement with new and existing industry partners.
- The clear potential for shared studentships with institutions outside of the 'Convergence' areas of Wales (notably Oxford,
ICL and Bath)
- The continued supply of trained and enthusiastic research engineers for a growing new industry base
Wealth Creation
- 96% of all EngD graduates have moved to industry related careers; hence we anticipate 21 research leaders to come
from COATED
- Supply chain capability will be supported since many of the companies working with COATED represent those aligned to
the goals of buildings as power-stations
- The location of the research and development 'engine' in the UK is critical in making sure that the scale up manufacturing
is based in the UK and the wider proposed job creation for the IKC is focused here.
Knowledge
- On average EngD researchers produce 3 refereed outputs so that the published output for the programme would exceed
60 articles
- Knowledge flow between industry and academia; we have already demonstrated within the first nine months of the IKC
that the EngD researchers are a key knowledge portal with exciting collaborative projects between Swansea, Tata and
BASF on solid state dye sensitized solar cells.
- The proposed partnerships with ICL, Bath and Oxford will cement those created by the IKC and give the research work in
those institutions critical mass (in relation to the aspirations of the IKC to industrialise university held IP) creating clusters of
shared researchers.
People
- The trained researchers will in the main end up working for an industry partner of the programme as has been the case
over the last 20 years. This important link cements a strong academic and industry partnership for the future.
- As has been the case with Steel related training, the COATED modular training will be offered to staff in partner industries
in two ways, firstly as work based learning and secondly as a route to gaining a Masters level qualification for graduate
entry staff through an Integrated Graduate Development Scheme (IGDS).
- It is likely (as has been the case from the Steel EngD) that our future industry managers and leaders will be created as part of the programme which is an important legacy of any investment.
Environment and Society
- Buildings are currently responsible for around 45% CO2 emissions from the UK and the programme encompassed by the
IKC will address this by creating materials which will generate store and release solar energy. A 6 million tonne 2020 CO2
saving is targeted.
- The security of supply of electricity is likely to be a major issue in the coming decades and this combined with reduced
peak demand for power that the concept of buildings as power-stations offers is compelling.
- There is considerable potential for coated products that generate, store and release energy to be applied in off grid
applications which opens up not only an export opportunity but also a huge humanitarian potential for the use of such
materials in either disaster zones or in developing countries without a developed grid infrastructure.
The COATED EngD will support the key outputs of the IKC, providing highly motivated, enthusiastic and expert individuals
who will be able to support the growth of a new industry for renewable energy.

Publications

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