Safer and more sustainable materials for manufacuring

20 February 2014


EPSRC

A £10.3 million grant has been awarded to researchers today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to find safer, more sustainable materials for manufacturing.

The four successful winning research projects are led by UCL, the University of Bristol, the University of Surrey, and the University of York, with industry partners adding a further £2.8 million of investment.

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: “As one of the eight great technologies of the future, Advanced Materials will ensure safer and more sustainable development of resources to boost the capability of UK manufacturing. This investment in research will help keep the UK ahead in the global race for exciting manufacturing innovations.”

The UCL project will focus on alternatives for transparent conducting oxide materials, used in window coatings, solar power panels, phones and computers, inks and thin films. 

The team led by Professor Claire Carmalt (UCL Chemistry) with co-investigators Professor Jawwad Darr (UCL Chemistry), Professor Ivan Parkin (UCL Chemistry), Professor Eric Fraga (UCL Department of Chemical Engineering) and Professor Panagiota Angeli (UCL Department of Chemical Engineering) will look into replacing tin and indium with common elements such as titanium, aluminium and zinc.

Professor Carmalt said: "This project is at the forefront of manufacturing and materials research and is addressing the challenge in moving from small scale lab samples to large area applications."

"This project is at the forefront of manufacturing and materials research and is addressing the challenge in moving from small scale lab samples to large area applications."

With manufacturing industries relying on an increasingly rare supply of raw materials, the research teams will assess the viability of replacement materials in terms of cost, performance and scalability.

David Delpy, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: “Through the development and deployment of improved materials, processes and products that will come from this research, UK industries will be able to create wealth and new jobs, whilst at the same time tackling the societal and environmental challenges that resulted from the use of the original materials which were often rare and difficult to refine.”

Image: A potential application of a transparent conducting oxide thin-film in a micro electrode array used to analyse living cells. Credit: Loughborough University