Sir Henry Royce Institute - Sheffield Build

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield


Materials processing is going through a period of rapid change driven by the need to improve their performance in-service but also by the socio-economic drivers of reducing process waste and emissions. To address these challenges the overall objective of the Advanced Metals Processing theme is to establish a world leading facility for metals discovery, processing, characterisation, upscaling and manufacturing, with a view to creating a link through to the digitally integrated, sustainable and resource efficient factory of the future. The focus will be on metals process innovation in the "missing gap" between small-scale laboratory metals processing and the industrial scale. It will address the key themes of materials discovery, resource efficient materials manufacture, light weighting, flexible manufacturing, prototyping and production scale-up.

Planned Impact

The manufacturing and processing of materials to form components is one of the largest industrial sectors. In metal processing it alone accounts for 46% of all manufactured value, with an economic worth to the EEA of £1.3 trillion. Metals production consumes about 5% of global energy use and is responsible for an annual emission of over 2Gton of CO2, so efficiency in manufacture can produce significant reductions in environmental impact. There are many market sectors in the UK where metals production is paramount. For example, there are 1.5 million cars produced in the UK each year. The automotive sector is an exemplar of metals in competition, with the principle driver being a reduction in weight. New high strength steels compete with the latest aluminium alloys and wrought magnesium alloys will increasingly become competitive. In the automotive sector, 2020 fleet average emissions targets of 95 g/km will be superseded by ~ 60 g/km by 2050. The same issues apply in the aerospace sector. For a commercial aircraft, every Kg of weight reduction saves £300 in fuel costs. The consequence is that exponential growth in the use of Mg, Al and Ti is predicted in the drive towards light weight design. Airbus forecasts a doubling of the world aircraft fleet by 2030, but this must be realised with targets of 75% reduction in fuel burn by 2050. A key component of this will be the need to introduce new light weight materials. Thus, the move towards low carbon technologies will rely heavily on the invention of new materials that are stronger, lighter, requiring less material to the used for the application, and have lower manufacturing carbon footprints. They must also feed into more efficient component design, work in multimaterial systems, and manufacture, with extended component lifetime and be recyclable at the end of life, implying a minimised whole life-cycle carbon footprint.


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