EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Functional Industrial Coatings

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

Abstract

Coatings are ubiquitous throughout day to day life and ensure the function, durability and aesthetics of millions of products and processes. The use of coatings is essential across multiple sectors including construction, automotive, aerospace, packaging and energy and as such the industry has a considerable value of £2.7 billion annually with over 300,000 people employed throughout manufacturers and supply chains. The cars that we drive are reliant on advanced coating technology for their durability and aesthetics. Planes can only survive the harsh conditions of flight through coatings. These coatings are multi-material systems with carefully controlled chemistries and the development and application of coatings at scale is challenging. Most coatings surfaces are currently passive and thus an opportunity exists to transform these products through the development of functional industrial coatings. For example, the next generation of buildings will use coating technology to embed energy generation, storage and release within the fabric of building. Photocatalytic coated surfaces can be used to clean effluent streams and anti-microbial coatings could revolutionise healthcare infrastructure. This means that this new generation of coatings will offer greater value-added benefits and product differentiation opportunities for manufacturers.

The major challenges in translating these technologies into industry and hence products are the complex science involved in the development, application and durability of these new coatings systems. Hence, through this CDT we aim to train 50 EngD research engineers (REs) with the fundamental scientific expertise and research acumen to bridge this knowledge gap. Our REs will gather expertise on coatings manufacture regarding:
- The substrate to be coated and the inherent challenges of adhesion
- the fundamental chemical and physical understanding of a multitude of advanced functional coatings technologies ranging from photovoltaic maerials to smart anti corrosion coatings
- the chemical and physical challenges of the application and curing processes of coatings
- the assessment of coating durability and lifetime with regards to environmental exposure e.g. corrosion and photo-degradation resistance
- the implantation of a responsible and sustainable engineering philosophy throughout the manufacturing route to address materials scarcity issues and the fate of the materials at the end of their useful life.

To address these challenges the CDT has been co-created with industry partners to ensure that the training and research is aligned to the needs of both manufacturers and the academic community thus providing a pathway for research translation but also a talent pipeline of people who are able to lead industry in the next generation of products and processes. These advanced coating technologies require a new scientific understanding with regards to their development, application and durability and hence the academic impact is also great enabling our REs to also lead within academia.

Planned Impact

The CDT will produce 50 graduates with doctoral level knowledge and research skills focussed on the development and manufacture of functional industrial coatings. Key impact areas are:

Knowledge
- The development of new products and processes to address real scientific challenges existing in industry and to transfer this knowledge into partnering companies. The CDT will enable rapid knowledge transfer between academia and industry due to the co-created projects and co-supervision.
- The creation of knowledge sharing network for partner companies created by the environment of the CDT.
- On average 2-3 publications per RE. Publications in high impact factor journals. The scientific scope of the CDT comprises a mixture of interdisciplinary areas and as such a breadth of knowledge can be generated through the CDT. Examples would include Photovoltaic coatings - Journal of Materials Chemistry A (IF 8.867) and Anti-corrosion Coatings - Corrosion Science (IF 5.245), Progress in Organic Coatings (IF 2.903)
- REs will disseminate knowledge at leading conferences e.g. Materials Research Society (MRS), Meetings of the Electrochemical Society, and through trade associations and Institutes representing the coatings sector.
- A bespoke training package on the formulation, function, use, degradation and end of life that will embed the latest research and will be available to industry partners for employees to attend as CPD and for other PGRs demonstrating added value from the CDT environment.

Wealth Creation
- Value added products and processes created through the CDT will generate benefits for Industrial partners and supply chains helping to build a productive nation.
- Employment of graduates into industry will transfer their knowledge and skills into businesses enabling innovation within these companies.
- Swansea University will support potential spin out companies where appropriate through its dedicated EU funded commercialisation project, Agor IP.

Environment and society
- Functionalised surfaces can potentially improve human health through anti-microbial surfaces for health care infrastructure and treatment of water using photocatalytic coatings.
- Functionalised energy generation coatings will contribute towards national strategies regarding clean and secure energy.
- Responsible research and innovation is an overarching theme of the CDT with materials sustainability, ethics, energy and end of life considered throughout the development of new coatings and processes. Thus, REs will be trained to approach all future problems with this mind set.
- Outreach is a critical element of the training programme (for example, a module delivered by the Ri on public engagement) and our REs will have skills that enable the dissemination of their knowledge to wide audiences thus generating interest in science and engineering and the benefits that investments can bring.

People
- Highly employable doctoral gradates with a holistic knowledge of functional coatings manufacture who can make an immediate impact in industry or academia.
- The REs will have transferable skills that are pertinent across multiple sectors.
- The CDT will develop ethically aware engineers with sustainability embed throughout their training
- The promotion of equality, diversity and inclusivity within our cohorts through CDT and University wide initiatives.
- The development of alumni networks to grow new opportunities for our CDT and provide REs with mentors.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2273416 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Enock Ankamah Ebbah
2269492 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Jack Daniel Reynolds
2268585 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Daniel Britton
2268448 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Hind Alsayyed
2275837 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Robert David Wolverson
2275877 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Jorge Navarro Torres
2275310 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Emily Louise Holding
2268681 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Geraint Emyr Howells
2273728 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Katie Sibella Hebborn
2273509 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Danielle Marie Goodwin
2269754 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Emily Frances Thomas
2269458 Studentship EP/S02252X/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Gareth Wyn Jones