VOLUME 24 NUMBER 1
The voice of the
materials, minerals and
CAll fOR PAPERS DEADlINE
31 JANUARy 2016
ELEVENTH EUROPEAN ADHESION CONFERENCE AND THIRTEENTH
INTERNATIONAL TRIENNIAL CONFERENCE ON THE SCIENCE
AND TECHNOLOgy OF ADHESION AND ADHESIVES
21–23 / September / 2016
TECHNOLOgy AND INNOVATION CENTRE,
UNIVERSITy OF STRATHCLyDE, gLASgOW, UK
Co-ordinated by the Society
for Adhesion and Adhesives
Society for Adhesion
which is linked to the
Image ©Industrieverband Klebstoffe
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Volume 24 Number 1
6 Tweaking tailings
Recent events have raised the profile of tailings
storage safety. Rhiannon Garth Jones reports
8 Plugging oil wells
James Perkins speaks to North Sea experts about the
decommissioning process and new technologies
11 Recycling PVC:
an uncertain future?
A ban on PVC containing DEHP in compounds and
dry-blends could prevent recycling of the material
12 Carbon uncaptured
Khai Trung Le looks at the ramifications for
CCS in the UK, following the withdrawal of the UK
Government’s £1bln CCS Competition
20 Materials in Sport: Tennis
As the 2016 Australian Open gets underway,
Simon Frost looks at the materials involved in tennis
26 Innovation vs commercialisation
Experts give their thoughts on the ‘valley of death’
Lucy Ackland talks about bringing together academia
32 Engineering the Earth
Rhiannon Garth Jones examines the issues
37 Saudi’s solar future
The world’s largest oil exporter is making steps into
renewable generation. Simon Frost looks at the
technologies being considered
40 Neutrons and energy
Dr Stéphane Rols explains the role of neutrons in
the next generation of energy materials
44 The future of steel: time to wake up
Professor Julian Allwood considers the recent
developments in the European steel industry and
offers an approach for the future
52 Western Australia rises to
Michael Schwartz examines the role of Western
Australia in the country’s mining success
22 Get talking
57 Diary dates
61 Material of the month:
65 Institute News
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD 1
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Mike Hicks FREng FIMMM FRAeS
Dr B A Rickinson CEng FIMMM
I hope everyone had a happy Christmas and New Year. In this first issue of Materials
World for 2016, University of Cambridge Professor of Engineering Julian Allwood
has written a stirring call to arms for the European steel industry on page 44. It
ties in with this month’s theme of Energy – Julian says primary steel making on
this continent is facing its demise and one way of ensuring the survival of the UK
industry is by shifting focus towards the more efficient electric arc furnace route for
secondary steel making.
On page 12, Khai Trung Le has explored why the UK Government turned its back
on the £1bln CCS Competition. We have reported frequently on CCS. Many experts
say that its successful development is vital to fighting climate change, so there are
a number of people unhappy with the decision. Perhaps an explanation can be found
by looking at the other CCS projects underway around the world – both the Boundary
Dam plant in Canada and the Kemper County Energy Facility in the USA have run
into problems. Still, surely the UK could have overcome this with its famed
Simon Frost’s feature article about Saudi Arabia’s uptake on solar energy is on
page 32. It is interesting to see this Middle Eastern oil powerhouse shifting towards
renewable energy – the country’s leaders want to use as little as possible of their own
oil domestically, so they can export more.
On page 40, we hear about how researchers at Institut Laue-Langevin,
France, are using neutron scattering to investigate materials used in clean energy
technologies – an example of how materials scientists are making a real difference
in this area. Finally, Rhiannon Garth Jones investigates the controversial subject of
geoengineering on page 32. Should we use this technology? Let us know what you
think by sending an email, letter or tweet using the details to the left.
This month’s contributors
James Perkins, Editor
Materials World incorporates International Mining and Minerals,
The Packaging Professional and Wood Focus.
© IOM Communications Ltd 2016
Published monthly by IOM Communications Ltd for the Institute of Materials,
Minerals and Mining. IOM Communications Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary
of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Charity number 1059475.
Printed by Buxton Press, Buxton, Derbyshire.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors, and do not
represent the views of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, its Council
or its officers except where explicitly identified as such. This publication is copyright
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form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of the publishers.
Single copies may be made for the purposes of research or private study. Multiple
copying of the content of this publication without permission is always illegal.
Igor Ča t i ćproposes that
‘digital materials’ deserve
their own classification,
and calls for further
research into this area
on page 23.
On page 30, Lucy
Ackland, from Renishaw,
speaks to Natalie Daniels
about her career in
engineering, and bridging
the ‘valley of death’.
Front cover: Oil tanks at a petrochemical refinery. Shutterstock.
Mining companies are
reluctant to invest in
new technology, to their
own detriment, Mike
Battersby tells Rhiannon
Garth Jones on page 48.
2 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
© Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University
Below: A sheet of
hydrogel is bonded to a
matrix of polymer islands
that can encapsulate
such as semiconductor
chips, LED lights, and
have created an electric
circuit in the vascular
system of a rose using
a conductive polymer.
A gel with strength
Hydrogels have been held back from a range of
applications because of their lack of durability. A team
of scientists, led by Xuanhe Zhao from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, USA, has shown that by including
a biopolymer such as aliginate, chitosan or hyaluronan
into the gel matrix, the material gets a boost in toughness.
In testing, the gel had a stiffness of 10-100KPa and, in
peeling tests on surfaces primed with functional silanes,
it had a bonding strength of 1,000j/m 2 . These materials
are promising for numerous medical applications
including wound healing and drug delivery. As part of
their study, the researchers embedded electronics into the
hydrogel that could sense when a patient needed more
medication and then deliver the required amount. Other
applications include as a coating for implanted devices
that would otherwise be rejected from the body.
Roses are red, violets are blue – this rose is electronic too. Scientists from Linköping
University, Sweden, have created what they are calling the world's first electronic
plant. They achieved the key components of a circuit using the xylem, leaves and
veins of a garden rose (Rosa floribunda) infused with the semi-conductive polymer
Scientists believe that organic electronics could be used to influence plant
physiology, harvest energy from photosynthesis and as an alternative to genetic
modification. 'Previously, we had no good tools for measuring the concentration of
various molecules in living plants,' said Ove Nilsson, Professor of Plant Reproduction
Biology at the Umeå Plant Science Centre and co-author of the article. 'Now we’ll be
able to influence the concentration of the various substances that regulate growth
To read the full paper, Electronic plants, published in Science Advances in November
2015, visit bit.ly/1kR7cO2
© Melanie Gonick/MIT
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
© Wyss Institute at Harvard University
Mining feels the
In 2015, global copper
prices fell by
Iron ore prices reached
close to US$200 per
tonne in 2011, but
in December 2015
Mollusc armour covered in eyes
A collaboration between USA institutions MIT and Harvard University has examined
how the chiton mollusc has incorporated eyes into the material of its protective shell,
which could help to determine routes towards producing synthetic multifunctional
materials. The function of materials that can sense physical stimuli could allow them to
monitor themselves for early signs of damage, which could be beneficial for building
materials and bioengineered organs.
The outer shell of the chiton mollusc (Acanthopleura granulata) is endowed with
hundreds of tiny eyes that, unlike most eyes found in nature, are made of inorganic
materials – the crystalline mineral aragonite, which also comprises the chiton’s
body armour. They can perceive changes in light so that the mollusc can respond to
approaching predators by tightening its grip to underwater surfaces.
Each eye includes an outer cornea, a lens and an underlying chamber housing
photoreceptive cells, as the researchers found using microscopic and crystallographic
imaging. They noted that the aragonite crystals in the lens are larger than those in the
shell and organised into more regular alignments.
‘We also learned that optical performance was developed as a second function to
the otherwise protective shell, with multiple trade-offs in both functionalities,’ said
researcher Ling Li. ‘The material properties that are favoured for optical performance
are usually not favoured for mechanical robustness so the evolving chiton had to
balance out its mechanical vulnerabilities by limiting the size of the eyes and placing
them in regions protected by strong protrusions.’ To read the paper Multifunctionality
of chiton biomineralized armor with an integrated visual system, published in Science,
Above: Multiple small
dark-pigmented eyes are
composed of aragonite,
the same biomineral that
makes up the rest of the
In December 2015, the
Brent Crude Oil price
announced in December
2015 it would shed
Turning up the heat
Using steam to control hydrogels could lead to the next generation of heat sensitive smart
gels for medicine, according to researchers at the University of Wollongong, Australia.
The researchers developed a method using water steam to build atom-thick boron
nitride sheets, which are then added to hydrogel. The boron nitride sheets create
a pathway for rapid and even heat dispersion through the hydrogels and provide
thermal conductivity. The boron nitride nanosheets, which according to the team are
simple to make, low cost, and free of harsh chemicals, enhance the hydrogel’s thermal
conductivity without compromising its mechanical strength.
Led by Dr Zhenguo Huang, the team ran further lab tests, which showed the
hydrogel including boron nitride was nearly 50% more thermally conductive than
a hydrogel without additives. ‘A simple test for temperature response is to look for
changes in the material’s opacity,’ said Huang. ‘A fast change in opacity indicates a
quicker response to change in temperature and in this case the hydrogel with the boron
nitride nanosheets additive was fivefold faster than a comparison gel without it.’
The researchers believe this new development could see great potential in medical
applications. ‘The key features of shape change and the dye release show this material
is really promising for use in medical applications, such as drug delivery as well as soft
robotics that change shape in soft environments, eliminating the need for mechanical
contact,’ said Dr Huang.
To read the paper Edge-Hydroxylated Boron Nitride Nanosheets as an Effective
Additive to Improve the Thermal Response of Hydrogels, published in Advanced
Materials, visit bit.ly/21dRSeN
Below: Hydrogel with
the boron nitride sheets
is nearly 50% more
Rio Tinto will cut its
capital expenditure in
2016 by around 17%,
© University of Wollongong
4 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Left: The Herschel
fascinating insight into
space, such as this image
of the Rosette Nebula.
PTB expands thermal data
As part of a European Space Agency (ESA) project, researchers at Physikalisch-
Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Germany, have measured the thermal expansion of
ultrastable ceramics and single-crystal silicon between -266°C and 20°C with high
accuracy. They found that across most of this temperature range, the change in
length was around one-billionth per degree Celcius, and also discovered important
disagreements with accepted reference figures.
Precise measurements of thermal expansion are rarely as crucial as in the
instruments used in space telescopes. The mirrors contained within the ESA’s
orbital Herschel observatory operated at temperatures below -190°C, are made
of ultrastable ceramics such as silicon carbide. The thermal expansion rates of the
materials used must be known in order to plan the dimensions of components – the
ESA found at the 11 th hour before a recent mission that the simulations performed
were not in agreement with the manufactured mirrors, which led to costly delays.
Thankfully, the mistake was noticed before the telescope was sent into space.
Thermal expansion is usually calculated in comparison with reference materials
whose exact expansion rates are known, such as single-crystal silicon, which exists
in a continuous lattice structure with very few defects. However, using a unique
interferometer that is accurate across the team’s wide test temperature range within
nanometre accuracy, the researchers discovered significant deviations from the
widely accepted reference figures for single-crystal silicon, suggesting that they
need to be updated.
Increased accuracy in thermal expansion calculations are pertinent to upcoming
missions such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which will operate below
-220°C, and JAXA/ESA’s Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics,
which may function at even lower temperatures.
China backs Argentina nuclear
Following China’s investment in Hinkley Point C and backing of future UK plants at
Sizewell and Bradwell, state-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) will finance
and build two nuclear power plants in Argentina in a deal valued around US$15bln.
The reactors will be built by CNNC with support from Argentina’s state-owned
Nucleoeléctrica. The first will use Canadian CANDU technology, which uses deuterium
oxide as a moderator and uranium as fuel, and is expected to cost around US$6bln.
The plant, Atucha 3, will have a generating capacity of 750MWe.
The second, Atucha 4, is expected to use China’s Hualong One reactor, the
first of which began construction in Fujian Province on May 2015, and is also the
likely candidate for the new station in Bradwell in the deal struck between the UK
Government, EDF and state-owned China General Nuclear, a domestic rival to CNNC.
China has become a significant trading partner to Argentina over the last 12 years,
currently ranked second after Brazil in the Latin American country’s HSBC Trade
Forecast Report, and has invested heavily in Argentinian infrastructure, including
dams, ports and military hardware.
A study into the toxicity of 3D printing materials has
found that both fused deposition modelling (FDM)
and stereolithography (STL) – the two main classes
of commercial 3D printing – create parts that can
be toxic to aquatic life. Observing zebrafish (Danio
rerio) embryos, commonly used to model toxicology in
aquatic organisms, the University of California, USA,
researchers measured the rates of survival, hatching and
developmental abnormalities and found that STL parts
were significantly more toxic than FDM, although both
had detrimental effects. They also developed a postprinting
UV light treatment that mitigates the toxicity
of STL-printed parts. bit.ly/1Y17cab
UK leads WorldStar winners
The World Packaging Organisation has released a list of
the 2016 WorldStar Awards winners, and the UK has won
more than any other country. The 15 awards for UKbased
companies include Plastipak’s E-LiquiPack design
for e-cigarette liquids and MW Luxury Packaging’s
collaboration with high-end speaker brand Sonos. China
and the USA followed closely behind, with 14 awards
Sensor detects multiple explosives
Scientists at University College London, UK, have
developed a proof-of-concept sensor that can quickly
identify five commonly used explosives. Made of
quantum dots – tiny light-emitting nanoparticles – the
fluorescent sensor changes colour when bound with
common explosives DNT, TNT, tetryl, RDX and PETN, the
latter two of which are particularly hard to detect using
sniffer dogs. bit.ly/1Nb8RqU
Clay battery weathers well
Chemists at Rice University, USA, have developed a
lithium-ion battery that uses a clay-based electrolyte,
which could make it robust enough to supply stable
power in temperatures up to 120°C. The battery’s
performance improved with increased temperature,
which could make it useful in defence or oil and gas
applications, among others. bit.ly/1SNIPf0
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Recent events have raised the profile of tailings storage
safety. Rhiannon Garth Jones reports.
The village of
after the dam
© Senado Federal
The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has announced a global review
into tailings storage facility standards and critical controls, in response to the Samarco
tailings dam collapse in Brazil. The burst tailings dam unleashed 60 million cubic metres
of mud and mine waste into a major river valley, killing 13 people, and it has been
described as the country’s worst environmental disaster by the Brazilian Government.
The UN has voiced concerns that toxic heavy metals and dangerous chemicals from
the site might be contaminating the Rio Doce river, which would endanger drinkingwater
supplies for at least 260,000 people in the region. Samarco and its joint owners,
BHP Billiton and Vale, are being sued by the Brazilian Government for US$7.2bln, which
blames the ‘irresponsible action of the company’ for the incident, and have both seen
a drop in their respective share prices since. All of ICMM’s members, who include BHP
Billiton, will contribute to the review, as well as external experts.
The Samarco dam burst was not the only recent tailings dam failure – in August
2015, the King Gold Mine spill in Colorado, USA, discharged 11 million litres of mine
waste water and tailings, including heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, into a
tributary of the Animas River in Colorado when workers accidentally destroyed the dam
holding back the tailing pond, while trying to add a tap. In Canada, concerns have been
raised recently about another problem at the reopened Mount Polley Mine in British
Columbia. In August 2014, its tailings pond was breached and the entire contents
emptied over four days into Polley Lake, its outflow Hazeltine Creek, and the nearby
Quesnel Lake and Cariboo Creek. The rehabilitation costs alone were US$60m for
Imperial Metals, the owners.
The right design
Nick Watson, Technical Director at Wardell Armstrong International, spoke to Materials
World about the importance of a proper tailings storage facility (TSF). ‘It’s a sobering
reality that in every recent year there has been one or two significant tailings
dam failures worldwide, which, in many cases, have been attributed to poor water
management, design or construction,’ Watson said. ‘Engineers in the mining world
intend these facilities to be fit for purpose, but this is sometimes far from the case –
with potentially catastrophic results for the local environment and livelihoods.’
Watson makes clear the importance of recognising the speed of change during the
lifetime of a mine. ‘One key aspect of the design process is how best to anticipate and
manage change. The expansion of a TSF is something to be expected and accepted.
6 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
After all, many things gradually change over the twenty to thirty year life of a mine.
People come and go. New production methods are brought in. Regulations change.
The original design intentions can be forgotten or are no longer valid.’ As events have
shown, planning for such changes, including eventual closure, has to be an integral part
of the design process for TSFs.
It is not yet clear what led to the failure at Samarco. The company has stated that
it monitored the dam daily with drones, piezometers, surface marks and water level
gauges. ‘None of the controls indicated anomalies in the dams,’ a spokesperson for the
BHP Billiton has agreed to an external investigation with Vale and is currently
reviewing all its tailings dams, while Vale says it has now checked all of its facilities.
There are also questions being asked of the state government’s role in the crisis. Minas
Gerais has suffered five dam breaks in the past 10 years, and the national Government
has acknowledged the need to review its safety procedures.
Watson suggests that the best way forward is to have an independent design team,
including personnel with ’practical experience, design knowledge, engineering judgment
and a deep understanding of environmental and social issues in making sure of a safe,
effective and compliant TSF’. With water so often involved in high profile failures, ‘there
is likely to be even more pressure in the future to de-water tailings, and there will also
be increasing emphasis on recycling waste for a more sustainable approach. It’s natural
to home in on engineering issues like health and safety and stability at the design stage.
But a good risk assessment should also look much more widely at environmental and
social factors, and potential effects in terms of adverse impact on local communities
and political fallout. These issues are just as important in informing the design choices.’
Although all this might increase costs, Watson says, ‘it has to be greatly preferable
to ensure success rather than insure against failure’.
The King Gold mine spill
into the Animas River,
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
The UK oil and gas industry is in the
early days of its decommissioning
process. James Perkins talked to
Alistair Hope, from Shell, about
the abandonment process for the
Brent field, plus Steve Kirby and
Oonagh Werngren about finding
efficiencies and new technologies.
With billions of pounds to be spent on decommissioning oil fields in the North
Sea and wider UK Continental Shelf in the coming decades, focus has turned
to this process and how it can be done more efficiently.
Just as it has been the flagship of UKCS oil production for around 40 years, Shell's
Brent field, having produced 4bln barrels – 8-9% of the total oil recovered in the area
– is now taking a leading role in the decommissioning process. Of the 140 wells that
serviced the four platforms, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta, 64 had been plugged and
abandoned by late December, in a process that is continuing on a daily basis.
Shell is one of the early movers in the space. The latest Oil and Gas UK
Decommissioning Insight document forecasts £16.9bln expenditure in this area from
2015 to 2024, up £2.3bln on the 2014 report's ten-year forecast due to 47 new projects
entering this year's survey – most at the end of the date range. Well plugging and
abandonment, at £7.7bln, is the largest section of expenditure at 46% of the total.
Currently, around 3% of total expenditure on the UKCS is related to decommissioning,
but that is expected to rise to 18% by 2018, with more than 1,200 wells to be plugged
and abandoned over the next decade.
Alistair Hope, Project Director for Brent Decommissioning at Shell, said it has
been challenging for his 1,500-strong team. 'We have got more than 140 wells, four
platforms and 28 pipelines and they are all interconnected, which provides some
complexity when you come to decommission the field,' he said. 'The reservoir itself has
been developed extensively. The wells are not just drilled, they have been re-drilled and
sidetracked.' The field was also converted from oil wells to oil and gas wells in the mid-
90s, by dropping the pressure to 1,500PSI, from 6,000PSI. All these modifications made
over the course of life adds to the difficulty of plugging wells.
According to Oil and Gas UK guidelines, each well needs at least three barriers, each
requiring 100ft of 'good cement', which usually means, for each barrier, around 500ft
of cement is pumped into the well. Shell pumped around 1.7 million litres of cement for
the 40 wells associated with Brent Delta alone.
Shell is taking an innovative approach to removing the topside of Delta, and will
remove it in one lift using a specially constructed ship called Pioneering Spirit. The
vessel sits at harbour at Rotterdam, Netherlands, ahead of the planned lift in the coming
summer. 'This is a disruptive technology,' says Hope of Pioneering Spirit, which will be
watched closely by the industry and general public when it makes its 23,500 tonne lift of
the topside, before carrying it to the Abel Shipyards in Teesside, where 97% of it will be
reused or recycled.
As more operators look towards the decommissioning process, they will be aiming
to complete it in the safest and most efficient way possible. But of six UKCS projects
studied by McKinsey and Company in its From late-life operations to decommissioning
report, three went over budget by around 161% and the weighted average cost overrun
for decommissioning among all the projects was 84%. The management consultants
identified a 24% saving available if the North Sea operators perform as well as their
Gulf of Mexico counterparts.
According to oil and gas industry consultant Steve Kirby, 'Taking the drilling model and
using it for well abandonment doesn't work.' Plugging is not as simple as drilling from
'A to B' and multiple backup plans are needed. Kirby adds, 'If you can't figure out what
to do, stop doing it. This is where well abandonment requires a different mentality to
drilling – in well abandonment if you reach the point where you go "this isn't working",
don't keep trying to carry on. Make the well safe, stop, go off and do another well and
then have a good think about what your forward plan is going to be for the first well,
then go back and implement.'
Kirby, who has consulted on a number of decommissioning programmes, cites
factors such as inadequate maintenance, a lack of thought towards decommissioning
at the design stage and in subsequent modifications such as sidetracks, missing
well records, and failing to recognise the costs during field life as issues that push
projects over budget. He would also like to see more sharing of knowledge between
8 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Shell's Brent Delta
Platform has had its 40
associated wells plugged.
The topside will be
removed next year in a
single lift by Pioneering
the operators and engagement of the wells team in planning at least two years before
decommissioning is due to start. The UK has a number of knowledge-sharing bodies and
services, including the Institutes's Oil and Gas Division, Oil and Gas UK, Decom North
Sea and the newly formed Oil and Gas Authority (which was recently warned by the
Competition and Markets Authority not to engage in anti-competitive behaviour), plus
IHS Rushmore Reviews.
The Norwegian Government, which expects to incur costs of about US$100bln in
decommissioning its oilfields, has invested US$1m in a research program called ECOPA,
which was announced in November. The project is being led by researchers from SINTEF,
Scandinavia, and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and will
create a database of technical and economic data relating to Norway's section of the
North Sea. SINTEF's Kjetil Midthun said plugging is an immature and expensive process,
which could be aided by sharing knowledge. 'Very little detailed information is available
about well plugging – for example, when the plugging operation took place, and how.
Nor are we aware of factors such as whether or not equipment on the sea floor has
been removed, when currently productive wells will be plugged, or what the total costs
of the plugging operation will be. For this reason it’s important for us to get as big a
picture as possible before we proceed.'
New materials and technology
Oil and Gas UK Operation Director, Oonagh Werngren, said, 'While cement is commonly
used to safely seal and permanently abandon wells no longer used for exploration
or development, the industry is developing and proposing new barrier materials
including polymers, metals, grouts, rock formations
and composites.' Any new material must go through a
rigorous approval process and comply with the Oil and
Gas UK Qualification of Materials for the Abandonment
of Wells guidelines. 'The industry requires that all new
materials proposed for deployment in well abandonment
fulfill certain criteria throughout the sequence of phases
from development, qualification, production, storage,
transport and installation,' said Werngren. 'These
guidelines incorporate the latest industry expertise in
the process to ensure the proposed material is qualified
to perform the envisaged function.'
Hope believes the development of thermal plugs,
which could fuse the rock and plugging material, is
a potential game changer, while Kirby said finding a
way to abandon wells with downhole gauges in place
is a 'holy grail'. He explained, 'Usually you have to pull
the completion [the gauge and its wire], rather than
being able to abandon the well with the completion
in place. The more of the well you can leave in the
ground, the better.' In the exploitation of the UKCS,
the UK oil industry became a world leader in its field,
and now it has the opportunity to do the same for the
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
© Anubis100/Wikimedia Commons
Although thermal modified timber is steadily gaining ground as an emerging process in
chemical-free wood treatment, the impact of the technology – associated environmental
impact of both the process and products – have yet to be determined. A paper by Andreja
Kutnar, University of Primorska, Slovenia, and Professor Dick Sandberg, Luleå University
of Technology, Sweden, aims to assess the environmental benefits and potential role of
thermally modified timber in the European low-carbon economy.
Thermal modification replaces the use of chemicals to enhance a wood species
performance involving exposing the wood to high heat, moisture (thermo-hydro
treatments) and in some cases mechanical action (thermo-hydro-mechanical treatment)
to modify the cell structure of the wood. This process is currently most commonly
employed on inapt species of wood.
Next steps in developing thermally modified timber to meet the requirements
of the European low-carbon economy, published in the International Wood Products
Journal, (IWPJ) calls for the acquisition of Environmental Product Declarations and
Product Category Rules, to better define the benefits
of the technology.
The paper notes, ‘Though many aspects of these
treatments are known, the fundamental influence of the
process on product performance, the environment, and
end of life scenarios remain unknown.’ Therefore, ‘the
need has emerged to develop methodologies that allow
for informed purchasing decisions to be made regarding
Kutnar and Sandberg expect the EU’s ongoing
transition to a recycling society, detailed in Directive
2008/98/EC, to position thermally modified timber as an
increasingly significant technology.
Members can read the IWPJ at www.iom3.org/journals
Treatment may widen use of rubberwood
An organic treatment to protect rubber trees has been developed by the Institute of
Wood Science and Technology (IWST), India, following a five-year research effort by
wood processing scientists Dr Krishna K. Pandey and D. Venmalar, intended to preserve
and strengthen the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) for commercial use beyond the
extraction of latex.
Unlike trees such as teak and rosewood, rubberwood lacks the natural properties
to protect itself against adverse weather and termites. Although rubberwood has
numerous indoor applications, Jim Coulson, former President of the Institute of Wood
Science, remarked, ‘It is limited in its outdoor applications because of its lack of
resistance to biological agencies, such as insects and decay. No one as yet has used it
outdoors, but it is a very cheap resource from the exhausted rubber trees.’
While rubberwood timber is typically treated with chemical preservatives, the ecofriendly
treatment from Venmalar and Pandey is a mixture of pongamia seed oil, cashew
shell liquid, neem oil and extracts from five other leaves and barks, and is said to yield
significant improvements against insect and fungal attacks. Venmalar said, ‘These
organic alternative treatments can help us see rubberwood in a different perspective,
and not get obsessed with teak. Rubber trees are inexpensive compared to teak as they
belong to plantation timber.’
IWST predicts that the treatment may be effective for preserving timber from other
trees including mango and eucalyptus.
However, Dr L D Andrew Saunders, former R&D Director at Koppers Performance
Chemicals, which acquired Osmose Wood Preservation in 2014, commented,
‘Conceivably, Venmalar and Pandey may have made a breakthrough but there is
insufficient information to know whether indeed they have.’
Areas of contention include ‘only the loosest indication about the degree of benefit.
Additionally, the energy consumption and CO 2
emission burden associated with
obtaining the necessary extractives on an industrial scale may well completely overturn
the assertion that this treatment is more eco-friendly than existing technologies.
Venmalar and Pandey may have something worth pursuing but, regrettably, the
probability of that being the case is extremely low.’
Below: Indonesia is the
world’s largest cultivator
of rubber trees.
European ash (left)
and thermally modified
10 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
an uncertain future?
phthalate (DEHP or
European Parliament could ban PVC containing
DEHP in compounds and dry-blends following a vote.
Natalie Daniels reports.
The use of DEHP in PVC
Diethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) is a low molecular
weight phthalate plasticiser that is used as an
additive in PVC to make it flexible, transparent and
durable. Some plastics can contain between 1–40%
of DEHP. The chemical can seep out of polymer
medical devices into solutions that come into
contact with the material. The amount of DEHP
that can filter out depends on the temperature, the
content of the liquid, and the duration of contact.
Exposure to DEHP has produced a range of adverse
effects in laboratory animals, but the greatest
concern is the effect it has on the development of
the male reproductive system and the production
of sperm in young animals.
On 25 November, MEPs passed a non-binding resolution
demanding that the European Commission does
not authorise the recycling of plastics containing
diethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) including the re-use of
DEHP when PVC is recycled. The European Chemicals
Agency (ECHA) had agreed to this authorisation, but the
Parliament proposed that DEHP, used to make PVC soft,
for items such as footwear and floor coverings, should
be banned because ‘it poses a reproductive toxicity
threat to exposed workers and could render their male
foetuses sterile,’ according to a non-binding resolution.
The producers that had asked for specific
authorisation to use DEHP, classified as a reproductive
toxicant, had failed to provide adequate assurances that
they would protect their workers from its health risks,
or that the potential social and economic benefits of
the recycling would outweigh these risks. In 2008, six
substances including DEHP were considered to be of
very high concern (SVHCs). In 2011, Regulation (EU) No
143 listed the six substances for authorisation of REACH.
Stuart Patrick, IOM3 Polymer Society Board Member
and Chair of the PVC Committee has his own thoughts
on the potential banning, ‘Primarily on the basis of work
safety, the use of DEHP in flexible PVC applications such
as flooring has been significantly replaced in the EU
by higher molecular weight orthophthalates or other
plasticisers, which are not on the REACH candidate list.
It should also be noted that all the scientific evidence
states that there is minimal risk to consumers in
recycling PVC containing DEHP.’
The European Parliament in a statement said, ‘It is
not acceptable to tolerate potentially numerous cases
of male infertility simply to allow soft PVC recyclers
and downstream users to save costs in the production
of low-value articles so as to compete with low-quality
imports […] recycling should not justify the perpetuation
of the use of hazardous legacy substances.’
The substance has been banned in new PVC under
the EU’s Regulation for chemical authorisation (REACH) but that hasn’t stopped EU
Parliament from wanting all recycled PVC containing DEHP to go to landfill, rather
than be used for recycling plastic products. Patrick added, ‘Starting to label waste
as ‘unrecyclable’ would condemn much of the vast mass of flexible PVC material
currently in use – medical applications, toys, cable and flooring – to ending its life in
unmaintainable landfill sites or energy from waste incinerators, or exported outside the
EU. It is also not clear that environmental and health issues associated with recycling
have been compared with manufacture of virgin PVC or indeed alternative substitute
materials, to support properly balanced decisions.'
As it stands, more than two million tonnes of DEHP is produced worldwide each
year. The resolution was passed by 603 votes to 86, with five abstentions. The Council of
Minsters is yet to vote on the proposal and must approve or oppose the authorisation
by a majority vote. If this is not reached, then the European Commission will make the
final decision. Patrick adds, ‘Clearly I do not agree with the potential banning of DEHPcontaining
PVC for recycling.’
DEHP is found in some
linoleum floor coverings.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
© Business Wire
Khai Trung Le looks at the
ramifications for CCS in the UK,
following the withdrawal of the
UK Government’s £1bln CCS
Following the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, the Government has
withdrawn its £1bln competition for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
The uncertain futures of Peterhead, a gas power station in Aberdeenshire, and
White Rose, a proposed standalone coal plant in north Yorkshire adjacent to Drax Power
Station, leave the UK’s commitment to CCS in jeopardy four months before a winning
bid was to be announced.
The future of Peterhead and White Rose
The announcement, absent from the Autumn Statement, was made in a letter from DECC
to the London Stock Exchange on 25 November and briefly notes that the ‘£1bln ringfenced
capital budget for the CCS Competition is no longer available. This decision
means that the CCS Competition cannot proceed on its current basis.’ No further
information surrounding the decision has been released since.
The decision has been criticised by energy experts, politicians and environmentalists,
and the competition forerunners have predicted their own downfall as a result. Shell,
which had partnered with Peterhead, believes the project has met its end, with a
spokesperson commenting, ‘While we acknowledge this decision has been made in the
context of a difficult spending review, without that funding, we no longer see a future
for the Peterhead project in the near term.’ The company maintains that CCS is ‘an
important part of a low-carbon energy future,’ and will push ahead with other projects
including the Gorgon gas fields, Australia, and Quest, exploring opportunities in the oil
sands industry in Canada.
Shell’s despondency has been mirrored in north Yorkshire. Leigh Hackett, Chief
Executive of Capture Power, the developer of the White Rose Project, stated, ‘It is
too early to make any definitive decisions about the future of the White Rose CCS
Project. However, it is difficult to imagine its continuation in the absence of crucial
Government support.’ White Rose previously faced uncertainty when the Drax Group,
a former partner of Capture Power, pulled out of the project in September 2015, citing
‘a drastically different financial and regulatory environment’, although Drax remains
committed to completing the project’s Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) study
and will continue to allow Capture Power the use of the site.
BusinessGreen published speculation on the
ramifications of the competition withdrawal, said to
have endangered a £100m investment from a ‘major
Chinese investor’ in White Rose. Hackett declined to
confirm to the environmental business site whether
a Chinese investor had been waiting in the wings,
commenting that the company ‘had made no secret of
the fact that we have been talking to potential funding
partners, but no agreements have been entered into.’
A report from the Global CCS Institute claimed that
large-scale CCS projects show promising results across
the world, with 15 live sites having captured 28Mt of
in 2015 alone, and on course to have captured 40
million tonnes by 2017, when the Global CCS Institute
hopes to see 22 large-scale projects online – although
this figure includes both Peterhead and White Rose.
Standout projects highlighted in the report include the
Abu Dhabi CCS Project, the world’s first large-scale iron
and steel project to apply the technology, and Kemper
County Energy Facility, which will be the largest CCS
power plant in the world.
The previous Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition
government matched this optimism. Former Energy
Minister John Hayes spoke on the ‘significant appetite
from industry to invest in UK CCS, providing jobs and
investment opportunities’ in 2013, and positioned the
competition as the first step towards ‘ensur[ing] we
have further CCS projects by the end of the decade.’
Along with controversial projects Hinkley Point C and
12 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
the delayed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, the £1bln CCS Competition was a pledge in the
Conservative 2015 General Election manifesto as part of the party’s commitment to
However, at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association’s (CCSA) annual
reception in June 2015, when asked to clarify the extent of government support and
endorsement on three separate occasions, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd responded,
‘You’re asking for more certainty than I can give at the moment […] We need more
private sector investment.’
In Materials World September 2015, Simon Frost reported on a cross-disciplinary
study, published by Nature Communications, which identified CCS as essential in all
possible routes towards keeping global warming levels below 2˚C. The study, conducted
by researchers from Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environment and Centre
International de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement, France, the Japan
Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the Met Office, UK, called for
the acceleration of CCS development following claims that in both best and worst-case
figures aiming at a 2˚C target were unfeasible. This call was matched in a report from
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in November 2015, which estimated
that the cost of significant emissions cuts would double without CCS.
However, few CCS projects have progressed smoothly. Despite announcements of
performance exceeding expectations in October 2015, the coal-fired Boundary Dam
plant, Canada, revealed in an internal memo dated February 2015 that the CCS unit was
operating at 45% of its rated capacity. The CCS unit was also revealed to have been
shut down early, and owner SaskPower has so far only sold around 400,000 tonnes of
captured CO 2
, half as much as predicted. Other projects facing difficulties include the
aforementioned Kemper County Energy Facility, which has missed its latest start date of
March 2015, and seen project costs escalate from US$2.4bln to $5.6bln.
This is not the first time a UK £1bln CCS Competition has been withdrawn at the
11 th hour. A similar four-year competition was withdrawn in October 2011 when
relationships between the owner of Longannet, the third largest coal-fired power
station in Europe, ScottishPower and its partners Shell and the National Grid were
reported to be on the brink of collapse regarding the commercial viability of the project
without further public backing. Longannet was the sole bidder in the competition as
of October 2010 after E.ON pulled out of the Kingsnorth project, with a Conservative
backbencher at the time attributing the blame to the prior Labour government, stating
that negotiations had extended so long that bidders were forced to drop out.
Many of the criticisms are centred on the timing of the withdrawal, so close to both
the competition conclusion and COP21. Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the CCSA,
said, ‘Moving the goalposts just at the time when a four-year competition is about to
conclude is an appalling way to do business.’
The SNP has been vocal in its opposition to the withdrawal, with Scottish Energy
Minister Fergus Ewing remarking that the decision
was ‘another UK Government hammer blow to energy
generation in Scotland […] This should have been a huge
industrial opportunity. Instead, the decision to pull the
plug on the CCS programme – to meet a deeply flawed
austerity agenda – is breathtakingly short-sighted, even
for this UK Government.’ Although the SNP has been
accused of hypocrisy by Scottish Liberal Democrats
Energy spokesperson Liam McArthur, who questioned
why the Scottish Government hadn't supported
CCS with the £10m Saltire Prize, a fund devoted to
developing renewables in Scotland untouched since its
launch in 2008.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, Director of Scottish
Carbon Capture and Storage, has accused the
Government of placing too much faith in recent
developments in nuclear, stating its ‘reliance on nuclear
power to deliver our future electricity needs depends
entirely on whether projects such as Hinkley Point
can actually be delivered on time […] If new nuclear
cannot be delivered at scale and on time, the UK runs
the future risk of becoming a distressed buyer of
rapidly built gas power plants, which locks in UK carbon
emissions for the next 40 years. To me, this does not
look like prudent management.’
Geoff Maitland, Professor of Energy Engineering at
Imperial College London, UK, remarked on the loss to
industrial opportunities of CCS, stating, ‘Cutting the
funding to establish CCS commercially now is false
economy. With the £1bln competition, the UK has been
leading the world in development of CCS for both
coal and particularly gas-fired power plants, with the
economic potential of CCS in the UK for both jobs and
technology export being estimated to be more than
£30bln by 2030.’
The Government has yet to elaborate on the decision
to withdraw the project, and has since avoided calls for
comment from Materials World beyond a statement
from DECC noting that ‘CCS has a potential role in the
long-term decarbonisation of the UK.’ The future of
homegrown CCS, as opposed to a reliance on imported
technology, looks increasingly distant.
© Iain Smith
Shell has reaffirmed its
commitment to other
CCS projects, including
The Peterhead CCS
Project was originally
planned to capture 10-
15Mt of CO 2
years of completion.
For more information on mitigating carbon emissions,
see Engineering the Earth, on page 32.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
10 minutes with…
Natalie Daniels caught up with Dominic Cakebread
at the Smithers Pira Packaging Forum to talk about
emerging trends in the industry and the growth of
What would you say is driving innovation in the packaging
industry right now?
I would say light-weighting. That is not just a product of sustainability but it is also
driven by cost considerations – companies throughout the supply chain are looking
for more efficiency and packs per tonne of material. That has been the biggest driver
for the past five years. If you think about light-weighting in food markets, that is
manifested in the shift from rigid containers to flexible – particularly stand-up
pouches. If you look at the beverage market, pouches have grown but, as importantly,
bottles have become increasingly lighter. During 2008-2013, many markets were
pressurised, the emphasis was very much on the cost. There has been an alleviation on
this since and the balance has changed as the industry starts to look at added value
features, such as active packaging systems. These technologies have more potential
now than they ever did because there is less pressure on cost.
Do you agree with the statement 'packaging cannot be
Not really and, realistically, I don’t think that the industry as a whole looks at it
like that. It is a bit of an academic argument, but it depends what people define as
'sustainable'. It has been a buzzword in packaging for the past five years – before that
everyone spoke about being environmentally friendly or the life-cycles. Packaging is
made by converting raw materials into packaging formats that, to me, means the use of
finite materials and resources. Sustainable really means it can endure over a long time
without down-grading. The only materials that do not downgrade at all are elements,
so you could argue that aluminium, for example, is totally sustainable because you can
melt it down and it becomes aluminium again. For most materials, however, there is a
process of degradation – in paper packaging, for example, you have to add in virgin
fibre because the quality of the fibre will degrade. What I would say is packaging
experts are becoming more and more concerned with sustainable packs. There is a shift
towards recycling and return rates are higher. Brand owners are looking at life-cycle
analyses and working out how they can re-use a material.
The UN defines sustainability as serving the needs of markets today, without
compromising the future – I also see it like that in terms of the packaging market
though, like most buzzwords, the word frequently gets used in different contexts and
meanings, which adds to the confusion.
How important is it for the industry to use sustainable
The whole concept of using sustainable materials is critical to packaging and not just
because public awareness is increasing in this area. It is important for the companies
to sell the sustainability label to consumers, as they are more aware than ever.
Can we expect to see more bio-based
materials on the market?
With biodegradable materials, there is a lot of research
going on, but the market penetration is fairly low –
they are likely to remain niche unless they are really
taken up by some of the major global brand owners.
We have seen that with bio-derived polymers with the
likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi using bio-based PET resin,
but there are some issues with that – should you be
using agricultural land for growing crops that produce
packaging rather than feeding people? I am less
confident on the potential for biodegradable packaging
materials because they have been around for quite
some time and cause problems – they can contaminate
the recycling of other materials. It will grow in terms
of its penetration in areas such as carrier bags, for
example but, generally speaking, it is quite a tricky
technology. I expect its use to grow as the technologies
improve, but I am not sure by how much.
Do you think there is enough
innovation reaching the market?
There is a vast amount of R&D and technology
going on in packaging. A lot of it is sustainabilityand
materials-focused, aimed at trying to steadily
improve the performance without compromising the
functionality of the packaging. I would say there is a
big difference in what is happening in R&D and what
is happening in the market. Getting the stuff on to
the market is proving much more difficult than the
R&D. There are a lot of innovations but, the more
fragmented the markets are, the more they have to
differentiate from one another. With active packaging,
there are more thermochromic inks and QR codes and
digital inks, and a lot of these things are expensive
and clever, but they have got to be able to get to
the marketplace – brand owners need to be able to
commercially repeat them on a large scale.
What are the some of the challenges
the packaging industry faces?
There are some legislative issues. There are more and
more regulations around now – for example, the Waste
Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, which
could potentially stop a lot of development in smart
packaging systems. We don't know this because they
haven't finalised the 2019 legislation, but it could put
the brakes on the development of RFID chips, because
it will class the packaging as an electrical product.
There are lots of new technologies coming in that need
to be dealt with in the waste streams, so the legislative
side is very important.
I would also say there are limits in terms of the
technologies, but it is difficult to know when they will
be reached. Take, for example, water bottles – they
now weigh as little as seven grammes and in effect are
almost flexible packaging. You open them and then
they collapse because the water is holding the bottle
together, similar with CO 2
in a can. The consequences of
making packaging more and more efficient are that it is
reaching limits in terms of its future development.
14 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
What are some of the trends you see
emerging this year?
Digital personalisation is at an early stage and I can
see that developing and growing over the next 10
years. Consumers will be able to have more customised
packaging with high-quality graphics.
I see a continuing steady trend towards plastics. I
can't see that diminishing – throughout this period,
the industry has managed to make improvements in
terms of the number of bottles it can get per tonne of
polymer. It is the youngest of the packaging materials
and therefore possibly less developed with still room to
make improvements in terms of efficiency.
I see more barrier materials being used, to make
packaging more lightweight, with an extended shelf life
– particularly in pouches in the food and drink market.
In active packaging, there is a lot of R&D but not much
in the market. A lot of solutions in that area are very
high-tech, but I think it is an area that needs to develop
over the next few years, and there will be winners and
losers coming out.
Digital personalisation is at an early
stage and I can see that developing
and growing over the next 10 years.
How do you see the market growing
over the coming years?
The market continues to grow worldwide. Packaging
growth in units is outgrowing volume consumption,
because there is a shift towards smaller pack sizes and
the emerging markets such as China are creating more
and more efficient packaging. The packaging product
expenditure really depends upon the wealth of the
country. Global population growth continues to be
a fundamental driver of packaging – even in the UK.
This also means that the industry needs to become
more efficient and resource-friendly and the recycling
systems need to be developed further. The use of more
sustainable packaging materials is inevitable and unless
you take a completely academic position on the issue,
the reality is that sustainable packaging is already
playing a big part in the market and most consumers
are aware of it.
Dominic Cakebread MInstPkg(Dip) has worked in
the packaging industry for more than 33 years,
specialising in international packaging market
research and consulting. He currently works as a
Packaging Consultant for Smithers Pira, producing
reports and conferences and specialising in bespoke
marketing research and strategic consulting services.
Sustainability has been an important focus for
packaging over the past few years, but what trends
can we expect to see in 2016? Natalie Daniels reports.
cannot be sustainable, it can only be resource efficient,’ said Dana
Mosora, EMEA Senior Value Chain and Sustainability Leader at Dow Packaging
and Performance Plastics. The word ‘sustainability’ was used frequently during the
Smithers Pira Packaging Forum, held in London, as delegates discussed the environmental
perception of packaging and predictions for the future. Tracy Sutton, Packaging Design
and Brand Sustainability Consultant, Root Innovation, said, ‘In my opinion, sustainable
packaging has always been a bumbling thing – implementing it is a real challenge.
Everyone wants to be doing more, but hopefully over time sustainability will be an even
bigger driver in packaging.’
One success story is the work of Dow Chemical’s Packaging and Specialty Plastics
in collaboration with Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) and Accredo Packaging, to
produce the first recyclable dishwasher pod packaging for the US market. Dow developed
the resins for the recyclable polyethylene stand-up pouch that ensure the package is stiff
and tough. Accredo Packaging then transfers these materials into pouches, which can be
recycled at more than 18,000 drop-off locations throughout the USA.
Mark Geers, CEO of PaperFoam, a bio-based packaging solutions company in the
Netherlands, said, ‘There has been a huge shift in environmental issues – we have to
reduce our carbon footprint, but still be functional at the same time. It is not easy. There
is not much knowledge about sustainable materials. Packaging with high sustainability
must be able to be reusable, compostable and have a low-carbon footprint.’ PaperFoam,
is a material made out of starch, natural fibres, water and a special premix. ‘It is a
bit more brittle than carton packaging – it gets crushed faster, but we can definitely
compete.’ The foam has an average weight of 180 grammes per litre and weighs less than
those made from plastics and pulp. Geers describes the injection moulding process as
like baking cookies ‘if you bake them and take them out too early they come out brittle,
leave it for a little while and you have your perfect cookie, similar to our process.’ Though
we probably won't see this process on the Great British Bake Off anytime soon.
Consumers can expect to see more flexible and easy-to-open packaging in their
increasingly hectic lifestyles. According to Canadean Packaging, nearly 800 billion
units of flexible packaging will be consumed within global retail food markets in 2018,
meaning flexible packaging is set to expand in the food packaging market to 53.1%
in the next three years. ‘The food market has become quite persistent with flexible
packaging. It is light-weighting that has created more efficiency on the market,’ said
Dominic Cakebread, Consultant with Smithers Packaging.
New technologies in barrier coatings for packaging are stepping forward to replace
foil laminates and metallised films. According to new report The Future of Functional
and Barrier Coatings for Paper and Board Packaging to 2020, published by Smithers Pira
Packaging, demand for these materials is expected to increase from 2.4 million tonnes of
material in 2014 to more than 3.2 million tonnes by 2020, with the market value growing
at 5% annually from nearly US$5.4bln to US$7.1bln. The trend in high-performance film
structures that extend shelf-life, and enhance smells and taste in food packaging will
dominate the market as more complex barrier materials make it onto the market.
As technology grows, so will packaging, and it appears QR codes, augmented reality
and modified atmosphere packaging show no signs of slowing down. Personalised
goods will also continue throughout the year, with Marmite, Nutella and Coca-Cola
leading the way.
The next few years will see the future of packaging change and grow, but it remains
to be seen whether sustainability will stay the biggest driver. As one of the delegates
stated, ‘You cant just have sustainability without innovation. I think both are needed to
drive future growth.’
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Khai Trung Le speaks to Professor
Yuntian Zhu about a newly
discovered technique that resolves
the traditional imbalance between
strength and ductility in metals.
© Yuntian Zhu
'When you go to higher strengths, there’s normally a
trade-off between strength and ductility. You want
both in your metals. But according to our current
understanding, this is not doable,’ said Professor
Yuntian Zhu, North Carolina State University (NCSU),
USA. However, a technique discovered in a long-term
collaboration between Zhu and Professor Wu Xiaolei,
Chinese Academy of Sciences, is able to make titanium
stronger without compromising on the metal’s ductility
by focusing on grain size.
The team used an asymmetrical rolling technique, with one
roller rotating faster than the other. Processing a 2mmthick
sheet of titanium, sheer strain is created in the metal
due to the asymmetry, breaking down the crystalline
structure and creating small grains. When the titanium
sheet is 0.3mm thick, it is heated at 475˚C for five minutes
to allow some of the grains to consume each other,
forming large grains laid out in long, narrow columns
surrounded by small grains, ‘We have a harder matrix,’ said
Zhu, ‘with very small grain size consisting of the majority,
75% of the metal, surrounding the large grains.’
Test specimens, with a gauge length of 10mm and
width of 2.5mm, were subjected to quasi-static uniaxial
tensile tests at a strain rate of 5 × 10 −4·s −1 at room
temperature. Following the strain, the specimens were
unloaded to 20N at an unloading rate of 200N-min -1
before the test was repeated.
The material is stated to retain the strength of ultrafine-grained
titanium while possessing the ductility of
coarse-grain, due to the different rates of deformation
between the different sized grains under stress. The high
ductility is the result of ‘strain hardening’ – the more
the material is stretched, the harder it becomes. The
material is reportedly stronger than Ti6A14V, a titanium
alloy commonly used in aircraft engines and structural
components, and while Zhu declined to disclose by how
much, he rebuked the claim of 15 times the strength
made by South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Not by design
Lead author Wu commented, ‘In addition to creating a
metal with an unprecedented combination of strength
and ductility, this material has higher strain hardening
than coarse-grained titanium, which was thought
impossible.’ Zhu adds that the discovery ‘wasn’t by
design. We couldn’t have predicted this when we first
did the experiment because, according to our current
understanding, there is no way to do this.’
While the tests were made with titanium, the team
have stated that the technique is compatible with
other metals and alloys. ‘For initial studies, pure metals
are the best to use, but combining these principles
with other alloys can make them even better. This can
also work with other metals, including copper and
steel, and we expect a lot of applications for aluminium
– cars, aircraft, anything where lightweighting is
important,’ said Zhu.
Their findings are expected to have a beneficial
impact for Chinese high-end manufacturing, which has
thus far struggled to compete with western interests,
with Wu commenting to SCMP, ‘China can make highquality
alloys, but they are not better than similar
products overseas. To sell our planes and other highend
industrial products abroad, our materials must be
better than those of our competitors – and now we
have a chance.’
Zhu was also enthusiastic about future application,
stating, ‘This is a breakthrough. This is the first
observation of this phenomenon. It totally changes our
idea of how we design a structure to make it strong
and tough,’ and predicts their findings will be easier to
commercialise than nanostructured metals and alloys.
‘The processing technique can be easily scaled up for
industrial scale production using current industrial
facilities. We want our findings to help everyone.’
More details can be read in the paper
Heterogeneous lamella structure unites ultrafinegrain
strength with coarse-grain ductility, published
The microstructure of
Ti, as recorded by
this when we
first did the
there is no way
to do this.
MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
© Aston University
False colour HAADF-
of a 3D hierarchical
orthogonal active sites.
Porous silica catalyses shift to biomass
A new multifunctional material structure could enable
the catalysis industry to exploit renewable sources of
carbon, as Simon Frost reports.
In the gradual shift away from fossil fuels as our primary
sources of carbon, biomass offers a renewable solution.
But turning it into useful ingredients for polymers,
plastics and medicines requires more efficient, costeffective
catalytic processes. A team of chemists at
Aston University, UK, has developed a new hierarchically
porous silica structure in which to carry out multiple
catalytic steps in a cascade.
‘Last century was the era of petrochemical
transformations from fossil fuels,’ lead researcher
Professor Adam Lee tells Materials World. ‘That
involved relatively simple chemical steps to activate
the hydrocarbon molecules. Now, we’re focusing on
renewable resources, but biomass is a much more
complex starting material. It is highly functionalised,
compared with oil, and so requires more chemical
steps to take such a complex molecular building block
through to a desired final product.’
Catalysing biomass typically entails a sequence
of independent reactions under different operating
conditions, as the different catalysts for each step are
often incompatible. Lee explains, ‘Glucose, which is
readily obtained from cellulose (a major component of
plant biomass), is one key building block where such
transformations are necessary. Often, the first step in
transforming glucose into something more valuable
involves the use of a base catalyst such as sodium
hydroxide, while the subsequent steps require an acid
catalyst such as sulphuric acid or a solid equivalent.
In those sorts of transformations you have a real
problem because the different catalysts are mutually
incompatible – you can’t put them both in the same
reactor to carry out the multi-step process.’
The Aston researchers’ solution was to create
macroporous silica cage structures that could separate
the incompatible catalysts, allowing a multi-step
reaction to be undertaken within one unit.
‘Our approach is to make hierarchical structures with
a range of different structural units, by taking porous
materials and introducing a secondary porosity within those. What we’ve managed
to do is make a material with big pores and small pores in which these pore networks
are connected, so a molecule enters the larger structure and the product of that first
reaction then moves on to the second, smaller pore network and undergoes a second
reaction,’ says Lee. These macroporous-mesoporous silica frameworks were synthesised
through a lyotropic true liquid crystal templating route, incorporating polystyrene
nanospheres as macropore-directing hard templates.
Separated by nanometres
Aside from the multifunctionality of its physical architecture, the main breakthrough
for the team was in controlling the location of catalytic precious metal nanoparticles
within them. ‘We tend to use nanoparticles that are very expensive, scarce and, because
we don’t have good control over their location, their use is inefficient and we often
have to use a lot more of them than is desirable to achieve the required chemical
transformations,’ says Lee. ‘A main challenge for modern catalysts is to better control
the distribution of the active components. The fact that we are controlling where we’re
putting the precious metals means that we can use less of them, making better use of
raw materials than for existing formulations.’
By compartmentalising palladium (Pd) and platinum (Pt) nanoparticles within
separate, interconnected pore networks, mere nanometres apart, the team were able to
carry out a cascade reaction sequence, enabling oxidation of cinnamyl alcohol entering
the macropores to cinnamaldehyde over Pd, and subsequent aldehyde diffusion into the
mesopores and oxidation to cinnamic acid over Pt.
Lee claims that these differentiated pore networks could also have applications
beyond catalysis, such as sensors. ‘You could imagine, for example, having a fluorescent
chromophore or enzyme in the pore network that is sensitive to a particular metabolite
or environmental toxin, glowing a certain colour when it encounters, say, glucose, and
a second chromophore or enzyme within the orthogonal pore network that glows a
different colour upon encountering a smaller or larger metabolite or contaminant.’
Scalability is key, and the Aston team is now working at the hundreds of grams
scale. ‘We can’t start a pilot plant yet, but we have already progressed from laboratory
to bench scale,’ said Lee, who is confident in the catalysts’ swift progression towards
commercialisation. ‘We have filed an International Patent and are actively seeking
industrial partners. I would certainly hope to see catalysts based upon these
formulations coming on stream within five years.’
To read the team’s letter in Nature Materials, visit bit.ly/1NBo9qm
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
© North Carolina State University
Concrete mystery cracked
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and
Empa, Switzerland, believe they have found a way to
solve the cause of ‘concrete disease’. They determined
the structure of the material produced in an alkaliaggregate
reaction in concrete at the atomic level.
They also demonstrated that the structure of the
crystal is made of sheet-silicate, which had never
previously been observed. The results could help in
the development of more durable concrete. For more
information, visit bit.ly/1QadaWY
Carbon’s new phase
Solid phases of carbon, such as graphite, graphene, fullerene and diamond, offer
distinct qualities – and now researchers at North Carolina State University, USA, have
discovered a new phase with several promising qualities of its own.
The researchers created a phase called Q-carbon by laser coating a sapphire
substrate with amorphous carbon – carbon with no defined crystalline structure. They
then rapidly heated it using a laser pulse, reaching 4,000K in only 200 nanoseconds,
before rapidly cooling the material, creating a film of quenched carbon (hence the
name Q-carbon) between 20–500nm thick.
It is harder than diamond, fluorescent, ferromagnetic and electro-conductive
and, importantly, its production is relatively inexpensive. ‘Q-carbon’s strength and
low work-function – its willingness to release electrons – make it very promising for
developing new electronic display technologies,’ says lead researcher Jay Narayan.
Variables such as the substrate material, which could also be glass or a polymer, or
the duration of the laser pulse can be tweaked to alter the rate of cooling, creating
different structures within the Q-carbon. ‘We can create diamond nanoneedles or
microneedles, nanodots, or large-area diamond films, with applications for drug
delivery, industrial processes and for creating high-temperature switches and power
electronics. These diamond objects have a single-crystalline structure, making them
stronger than polycrystalline materials,’ says Narayan.
The processing is carried out at room temperature and in an ambient atmosphere,
requiring only a short, high-intensity laser pulse to create the extreme heat required,
making the process relatively inexpensive. Narayan notes, ‘We can make Q-carbon
films, and we’re learning its properties, but we are still in the early stages of
understanding how to manipulate it.’
Two papers on the subject were published in the Journal of Applied Physics in
October and November 2015 – to read them in full, visit bit.ly/1XOIAGW and
in gold aerogel
© Gustav Nyström and Raffaele
Mezzenga / ETH Zürich
Scientists at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, have
demonstrated a new way to make a gold aerogel with
‘unprecedented lightness and functionality’ that could
be applied in catalysis and sensing.
Milk protein fibres, called amyloid fibrils, were
placed in a solution containing gold salt to create the
gel. The two materials interlaced to create a structure
that is 103 times lighter than equivalent gold alloys.
The drying process was a challenge for the
researchers, as air-drying damages the structure. The
team overcame this by developing a carbon dioxide
drying process described as ‘gentle and laborious’.
The colour of the material can be tuned by altering
the size of the gold particles, from the typical ‘gold’
colour associated with the metal, to a dark red using
larger particles. To view the paper Amyloid templated
gold aerogels, published in Advanced Materials in
November 2015, visit bit.ly/1O3uiaQ
Ceramics improve X-ray detector
Digital X-ray machines have replaced analogue in most medical applications, but
the detectors are expensive to make and deliver images with low resolution. The
HOP-X consortium, led by researchers from INM-Leibniz Institute for New Materials,
Germany, has created an improved digital detector by embedding terbium-doped
gadolinium oxysulfide scintillator particles into an organic photodetector matrix made
of the conductive organic polymer PCBM:P3HT – a polymer blend (polythiophene
plus fullerene derivative) that is commonly used in solar cells. It converts the optical
photons coming from the ceramic particles into charge carrier combinations, and then
transmits the charge to the electrodes, where they are collected and transferred to
the detection electronics. The material provides increased resolution by restricting
‘optical crosstalk’ - a form of interference from signals induced by X-rays. The method
of production described in the Nature Photonics paper is solution-based and the
components can be applied like paint by spraying.
Above: Distribution of ceramic particles in the plastic
digital X-ray detector visualised by electron microscopy.
18 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
A salty solution
Engineers in the USA have discovered a cost-effective
way of taking the salt out of seawater by developing
a new material that allows high levels of water to
pass through tiny nanopores that block salt and other
contaminants. A computer model of a nanopore in a
single-layer sheet of MoS2 shows that high volumes
of water can pass through the pore using less pressure
than standard plastic membranes. The engineers from
the University of Illinois, USA, used a nanometre-thick
sheet of MoS2 pierced with nanopore holes, which can
filter up to 70% more water than graphene.
Right: A graphical
representation of an
salt ions from water.
© Mohammad Heiranian
Graphene sounds good
A microphone using graphene is said to be 32 times
more sensitive than conventional microphones, picking
up sounds 15 decibels higher and at frequencies of up
to 11kHz, following work by a team from the University
of Belgrade, Serbia. 60 layers of graphene were applied
onto a nickel foil, the traditional material used in
microphones, before the nickel was removed. The
graphene sheet was then placed inside a conventional
microphone. Finally time to rerecord Ziggy Stardust,
Bowie? For more details on the microphone, visit
A new material that combines the flexibility of
polymer gels with metal-based clusters could see
applications in drug release, gas storage and water
filtration, as demonstrated by chemists at MIT, USA.
The team created the polyMocs gel by applying a
metallo-supramolecular assembly technique using a
ligand containing two pyridine groups that each can
bind to the metal palladium. Each atom of palladium
formed bonds with four other ligand molecules,
creating a rigid, cage-like structure with 12 palladium
centres and 24 ligands. These centres connect with
other metallic cages with flexible polymer linkers to
form a large, self-assembled gel. The researchers are
also experimenting with different cage shapes and
alternatives to palladium – bit.ly/1YTO3cE
Hardened steel simplified
The new process of hardening steels through low-pressure carbonitration using
alternative gases may lead to greater efficiency in downsized engines, a team from the
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, has announced.
At temperatures between 800–1,050˚C and total pressures below 5KPa, low-alloy
steel component surfaces are first enriched with carbon and nitrogen and then
hardened by quenching. Currently, low-pressure carbonitration is nearly exclusively
carried out using ammonia as a nitrogen donor in addition to a carbon donor, typically
ethyne or propane.
The KIT team, led by David Koch, has stated that this process can be simplified
by using methylamine and dimethylamine, providing both carbon and nitrogen. This
reduces the number of gases, process steps and overall process duration.
Hardened steel is suitable for injection nozzles and other components that face
high mechanical and thermal loads, an increasing issue as engine manufacturers look
to downsizing to save energy and emissions, and the KIT team are working on further
optimising low-pressure carbonitration with amines.
Photonic sintering – fusing nanoparticles into a solid,
multi-functioning film – may further developments
in solar cells and flexible electronics among others, as
an engineering team at Oregon State University (OSU),
USA, announce a ‘breakthrough’ in understanding the
physics of the process. The team state that previous
approaches were based on a flawed view of the
physics involved, and conclude that understanding the
relationship between temperature control and smaller
nanoparticle size is essential in furthering its use. With
photonic sintering, OSU claim they can now create
products at lower temperatures, twice as fast and with
10 times greater efficiency.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
MATERIALS IN SPORT
As the 2016 Australian Open gets underway, Simon Frost
looks at the materials that make tennis the high-speed,
high-tech sport it is today.
Gone are the days of heavy laminated wood rackets, although their heyday ended more
recently than you might think. Björn Borg was still winning Grand Slams with a wooden
racket into the early 1980s, though his ill-fated return to tennis in the 1990s highlighted
that the wooden era was no more. Steel came into the sport towards the end of the
1960s, championed by Jimmy Connors, whose powerful steel racket helped him defeat a
wood-wielding Ken Rosewall in the 1974 Wimbledon final. The following year, aluminium
alloy frames were introduced – lighter than steel, they could be made in larger sizes,
allowing greater use of spin and slicing shots, but, as the 70s drew to an end, carbon
fibre reinforced polymer (widely referred to in the tennis world as graphite) began its
ascent to dominance. Light and strong yet stiff, less power is lost through frame bending
and the consequent vibration of the strings. Over the years, Kevlar, ceramics, glass fibre,
boron, tungsten and titanium have been used to optimise the balance of the composite’s
lightness, strength and stiffness, while reducing vibration. The latest addition to ‘graphite’
rackets is graphene, and the roster of players using Head’s Graphene XT series speaks for
itself, boasting Novak Djokovic (pictured), Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova.
Sliding to return the ball has been employed in clay court tennis for many years, but a
handful of the world’s best players have recently mastered its use on the less slippery
hard (acrylic) and even grass courts. Sliding takes less time than running and allows for
a faster change of direction. On hard courts, the world’s top five mens’ singles players
now get to 30% of their return shots by sliding rather than running, turning points
that were increasingly being won on the serve into high-paced rallies. The International
Tennis Federation (ITF) welcomes its use and, since 2013, has enlisted the Department
of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, UK, to investigate the best
frictional matches between shoe and surface materials and textures. They have developed
a lab-based shoe traction rig that mechanically replicates the friction between shoe and
surface, and aim to make a portable version that can be used to measure the friction
of a tennis court in situ to inform players on their choice of shoe depending not only
on the kind of court, but the conditions on the day such as temperature and moisture.
Sheffield researcher Daniel Ura likens this to the approach of Formula One teams to tyre
choice. The material of the outsole is invariably a hard-wearing viscoelastic rubber with
a combination of tread patterns adapted for each playing surface and for the function
of each part of the foot – the ball area, for example, often features circular ridges to
facilitate a pivoting motion.
20 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
The earliest tennis rackets were strung with serosa – the elastic outer skin of sheep
intestine, providing flexibility, elasticity and tension retention. Synthetic strings,
unsurprisingly, are now far more common, made primarily from nylon, polyester and
Kevlar, although some players use a combination of natural gut and synthetic fibre to
string their rackets. Synthetic fibres are produced through extrusion – molten polymer
is drawn out of a spinneret, and as the fibres solidify the molecules of the polymer are
tangled together, improving its strength. The core of the string is normally wrapped with
an outer layer of thinner fibres for protection. Gauges range from 0.6–1.8mm, the most
popular being between 1–1.5mm. The strings lie on parallel planes and can move with the
aid of tubular sleeves, which allow the strings to rotate the ball upon impact, producing
spin. The ITF permits use of one vibration dampener per racket, which can be made with
solid or foam silicone, or a polymer filled with a silicone gel.
Tennis balls have at their core a two-piece rubber compound shell, comprising natural
rubber, carbon black, clay, zinc oxide, sulphur, diphenylguanidine and cyclohexyl
benthiazyl sulphonamide. This compound is heated and extruded to form a rod that is
cut into pellets. The pellets are loaded into a hydraulic press to form hemispheres, then
cured at 150°C for around 150 seconds. The edge of one half is buffed with a grinding
wheel to provide a key for the adhesive that joins the two halves. The ball is inflated
either by inserting nitrogen-producing sodium nitrite and ammonium chloride, or through
compressed air inflation. The joined, inflated core is buffed to create a rough surface and
coated with a rubber solution, before coating with two dumb-bell shaped blanks of either
Melton cloth, which has a high wool content, or Needle cloth, a cheaper, nylon-based
felt. The rubber solution on the ball core and reverse of the cloth are cured together
in a heated moulding press, before the ball is steamed to fluff the cloth and bury the
vulcanised seam between the two blanks.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Globalisation has placed
an added responsibility on
managers and leaders to
understand and accommodate
people from various cultures,
Paul Keighley writes.
Paul Keighley BSc CEng FIMMM has more than
40 years’ oil and gas exploration and production
expertise. He has held senior executive positions
with Crescent Petroleum, Neste Oil and Burmah Oil
as well as managing a drilling contractor. He lived
in the Middle East for 11 years. As such, he has
managed ventures and businesses in the UK, USA,
Middle East, Europe and North and West Africa and
is an experienced international negotiator. Since
2006, he has been an international consultant
advising and training companies in international
leadership, management, communication and
Leading a multicultural team
One of the most difficult areas in leadership, communication and negotiation is dealing
with people from different cultures to your own. Over the past nine years I have carried
out management and leadership training consultancy across the world and I constantly
see the problems companies face when they fail to appreciate the complexity of
assimilating different cultures into one organisation.
We do not pay sufficient attention to cultural differences and the impact on staff,
but pay attention to the cash flow and profitability benefits of the new enlarged group.
Much research has been undertaken on the issue of integrating of different cultures
into an organisation. It has been shown that managers find dealing with different
cultures to one’s own to be the most challenging aspect when working internationally
(PWC) and that many mergers do not add value due to cultural differences (KPMG).
We are seeing Chinese oil companies acquiring, and continuing to acquire,
companies from other nations. For example, Chinese National Oil and Gas Company’s
acquisition of the Canadian company Nexen, in February 2013. In this case, an
entrepreneurial Canadian management needed to adjust to the culture of a centrally
controlled Beijing-based company and Canadian and Chinese technical staff needed
to learn to work together. At first sight, one might believe that it is a simple matter
for personnel to adopt the culture of the acquiring company, however, and this is the
mistake many companies fail to realise, it is not something that is going to happen
without training and an appreciation of cultural differences.
If you have not been exposed to other cultures you will revert to your own
cultural way of expressing yourself and behaving, which could be offensive to other
cultures and lead to demotivated staff. Of course, it works both ways – the acquiring
management needs to appreciate the cultural difference of the personnel that manage
the acquired company and vice versa.
This is also true when negotiating with people from another culture. For example,
if you are from a company from the USA you cannot negotiate with a Middle East
company in the same manner you would with another from your own country. If
you do, you will fail. In the Middle East you must invest time to build relationships
before getting down to business – an abrupt forceful approach will only alienate. A
confrontational manager will fail in the Middle East. Likewise, it is critical to avoid
making someone lose face in many Middle and Far Eastern nations. It is thus imperative
that a manager negotiating with other cultures must understand the culture of the
people with whom they relate.
Leaders need to gain an appreciation of how to communicate and inspire people
to work together. It takes time and training. For example, the adage ‘speak to people
as you would like to be spoken to yourself’ no longer applies - it is now ‘speak to
people how they would like to be spoken to’. In other words, try to understand that
those from different cultures see things differently. If you do not understand this, and
accommodate other cultural backgrounds, demotivated staff will result. This is why an
international manager must find ways to develop an atmosphere where staff members
will give their views. Sounds simple, but believe me, unless you really start to think
about such matters you will end up with low performing staff, leading to demotivation
and, in the end, falling profitability. Members of one culture may be quite prepared
to disagree with the leader, and the leader prepared to accept constructive criticism.
However, other cultures treat their superiors in business or family with reverence and
are not prepared to disagree or offer their opinion if it differs. Therefore, a leader needs
to understand this and create an atmosphere where open dialogue is encouraged and at
no time cause an individual to lose face.
As leaders it is essential that different perspectives are maintained and used
to motivate people by recognising that different cultures view issues differently.
When working with multicultural teams it is essential the leaders are experienced
internationally and trained to communicate and motivate and not just focus on the
issues surrounding the P&L and balance sheet.
22 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Plastics manufacturing expert Igor Č a t i ćargues for
a new classification in materials design to take into
account the rise of digital processes.
HIstorically, the development of materials has been based on transforming an idea
into a material by experiment. Meanwhile, rapid development of computers and other
technologies has enabled significant changes in the materials world, specifically in
methods of production.
One manufacturer of equipment for additive manufacturing stressed to me that
they developed a number of ‘digital materials’ and this led to the need to study the
contemporary meaning of the word material.
The word material has a very broad meaning covering two main groups. The first, raw
materials from which stuff, things, matter is constructed or manufactured. The second
pertains to writings, documents, archival materials or conference papers, etc.
New acronym - CADM
During our synthesiological research, the theory of systems is used. Based on the results,
we have developed the idea to classify material according to one of three basic criteria
– mass, energy and information on which all of us depend. This is supported by A G
Oetinger (1984) who said, ‘Without materials, there is nothing. Without energy, nothing
happens. Without information, nothing makes sense.’
So we conclude that the first group of materials can be called physical or analogue.
The second group is information materials with two subgroups – analogue information
and digital information.
Digital materials only exist in a computer, and this gives us a new idea. During the
development of a product, from the idea to the finished part, we have previously used
two acronyms – CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacturing).
But there is a missing link between CAD and CAM. We propose CADM (computer aided
development of material). By introducing this acronym, a completely new field of
research is opened. However, insufficient care is paid to one very important fact.
Why should there be a distinction between materials
and products made of certain materials?
For analysing development and production of materials and products, there are
three basic terms for the common names of natural technology and artificial (man’s)
technology – substance, material and product.
The way of transforming the substance into usable products can be twofold. From
raw materials, such as natural gas, we can make polyethylene (processing technology).
Using methods of primary shaping (manufacturing technology) we could make a
polyethylene box from this material. The same is true, in principle, for making metal
products. In this case we use the acronym CAM.
Another way is to make the material in the same place (in-situ) – from a compound
(such as rubber) comes the required form of a product (primary shaping) with form
solidified by a chemical reaction – for example, polymerisation and/or crosslinking
such as in a thermosetting product. It is therefore a combination of a manufacturing
technology and a processing technology. According to Gunter Ropohl (1979), this
product is a result of production (fabrication) technology and the acronym should be
What is the specific feature of these two ways of making a product? The conversion
of natural gas in the polyethylene produced a visible, formless material which is then
converted into a finished product. In the second case, there is no independent material,
but a product made from this material. Therefore, it is possible to testify that certain
materials do not exist independently (ceramics or rubber materials), and therefore require
applications of production on the properties to obtain the finished product.
Professor Emeritus Igor Ča t i ćhas been a fellow
of IOM3 since 1978. He made his Doctoral thesis
at Institute of Plastics Processing in Aachen,
Germany. After 10 years working in the field of
mould and machine design for plastics, he moved
to the University of Zagreb Faculty of Mechanical
Engineering, Croatia in 1965. His most important
contributions in plastics and rubber are Heat
exchange in moulds and Systemic analysis of injection
moulding. He is a recipient of the SPE International
Education Award (1998). He also publishes original
papers in language and philosophy.
A new way for developing materials
In developing a new material there are two possibilities.
First, the classical composition of required material,
which can be very expensive. The recipe was usually
stored on paper (analogue information material).
Today, computers allow the development of computerbased
recipes - the previously mentioned digital material.
In both cases, it is the information which serves to
determine a variety of ingredients for the necessary
product. No matter how the recipe is composed
(analogue or digital), it is followed by the creation of
Education for the CADM era
The proposed CAD-CADM-CAPR, or CAM, chain is a
new scientific and engineering field, demanding a
strong change in education. Information technology
and education in materials are just preconditions. Today
products are made at once from different materials or, in
the future, a combination of living and non-living. The
products from digital material can be manufactured from
analog materials (CAM) or mostly produced from
a combination of substances (CAPR).
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
MATERIALS WORLD IS
DIGITAL. ARE YOU?
Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
or Attn: MW Editor, 297 Euston Road,
London NW1 3AQ
Is Hinkley Point C a ‘pup’?
Rightly deemed the most expensive object in Britain, Hinkley Point C, our newest
nuclear plant, will not do anything to reduce the cost of power and may not do much
to cut CO 2
emissions. Tucked away in Khai Trung Le’s article in the December issue of
Materials World (The most expensive object in Britain) is the comment by Professor
Storey that the design has been simplified, compared to the EPR reactors at Flameville
and Olkiluoto. But the EPR has been built with an extremely good ability to follow daily
changes in demand. This needs extra care in the design and choice of equipment, as it
will be subject to increased thermal fatigue and wear. Contrary to what most people
think, as German experience at Phillipsburg and Neckarwestheim shows, PWRs can
operate down to 40% load, on a daily basis, and were intended to do this.
My concern is that Hinkley C is being built as a cheap and cheerful (even if it
doesn’t sound this way) base load generating system, with simplified controls and
with insufficient meat in components to cater for the wear and tear of daily load
changes. In this scenario, nuclear could never take on much more than 30% of the
UK power requirements. So, for the indefinite future, we will be stuck with combined
cycle gas turbines and coal to meet changes in demand, with all the CO 2
that this implies. In short, is a technically incompetent, panic stricken Government
being sold a pup?
Dr Fred Starr CEng FIMMM
Wonder materials come and go
It was very refreshing to read Professor Bhadeshia’s judicious assessment of the
potential of graphene in the December 2015 issue of Materials World.
At 81, I have seen a good number of wonder materials come and go, generally into
niches. It is always sensible to remember that nobody wants to buy test bars, and to ask
of any new material what it cannot do.
Dr D W Budworth FIMMM
24 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
The forgotten flight
I enjoyed Simon Frost’s informative article on the Wright
brothers (Materials World, December 2015), that is until
the comment about being the ‘world’s first manned
flight of a powered aircraft’ in December 1903. There is
evidence that the first such flight took place in March
1903 at Waitohi in New Zealand.
The aircraft was built and piloted by Richard Pearse,
who was also known as ‘Mad Pearse’ or ‘Bamboo Dick’.
Most witness accounts have the distance travelled as
somewhere between 100–150m, with more generous
estimates suggesting that Pearse may have flown up to
400m, before crashing into a gorse hedge.
Unfortunately, no proof exists to pinpoint the date
or offer proof of the flight – records of the visit Pearse
made to the local hospital after injuring his collarbone
in the fall were destroyed in a fire, and a photo of the
aircraft prone in the hedge, taken by a professional
photographer the day after the flight, was later
destroyed in flooding.
However, his flying machine resembled modern
aircraft design much more than did the Wright brothers’
machine – monoplane rather than biplane, tractor
rather than pusher propeller, stabiliser and elevators at
the back rather than the front and ailerons rather than
wing-warping for controlling banking. A replica of the
machine is on display at the Museum of Transport and
Technology in Auckland NZ.
Pearse didn’t believe, by his own rigorous standards,
that he had achieved ‘proper’ flight. For him, this
meant a powered take-off followed by ‘sustained and
controlled flight’. Pearse’s flights, characterised by
powered take-offs followed by erratic descents, failed
to meet his own criteria. Therefore, Pearse never made
a claim to be the first and his achievement is now,
generally, lost to history.
Steve Kirby CEng MIMMM
I have just read the article by Fred Starr, Lies, damned lies and nuclear power, in the
December issue of Materials World.
The core of his argument is the ‘breakaway oxide’ phenomenon found in the early
Magnox reactors during the late 1960s and early 1970s, which hit the press and
slightly dented the nuclear power industry.
He mentions that the gas turbine power industry experienced a similar problem
with its super-corrosion-resistant iron-aluminium-chromium alloy, which to my
knowledge did not get as much press coverage.
Breakaway oxidation is the result of the corrosion of a material in a certain
environment at high temperature and high pressure, and how the chemical
equilibrium of the oxidation system is affected by Le Chateliers principle. In both the
above cases the breakaway oxidation is due to the effect of high pressure. This is a
basic principle covered by the old chemistry GCE ‘O’ level courses, and in both ‘high
tech’ instances appears to have been overlooked. And this spawned ‘no end of PhDs’?
Fred Starr’s article shows his anti-nuclear bias, and it should be re-titled Lies,
damned lies, but possible oversight.
Like everything in life, too much pressure can give catastrophic results.
Let’s see more sustainability
Harry Robinson CEng MIMMM
I was pleased to see Materials World feature a substantial piece on sustainability
with a look at the challenges facing a variety of materials (Roundtable: Sustainability,
November 2015). It was interesting to see how ingrained ‘sustainable thinking’ has
become across the whole range of materials discussed, with a strong focus on the life
cycle of the products rather than at isolated activities at one stage of production.
Having worked primarily in the metals industry, it was of particular interest to hear the
steel perspective, and challenges when working with the automotive producers and
supply chain to improve design for recycling and the elimination of unnecessary scrap.
It would be fantastic to see more in-depth articles on the same theme in future editions
of your magazine.
Tamara Alliot GradIMMM
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Taking a research concept to full-scale commercial
success can be a challenging task. Natalie Daniels
presents expert opinion on the ‘valley of death’
funding gap and the process between innovation
previously Director of
the Begbroke Science
Park, Professor of
and Senior Research
Fellow at the Queen’s
College, University of
Oxford. Now retired, he
still serves on Research
Council panels and
committees and holds
part-time positions at
Professor Derek Fray
FREng FRS FIMMMM
is Director of Research
and Emeritus Professor
of Materials Chemistry
at the University of
Richard Holliday CEng
FIMMM, Deputy Head
of Technology Transfer
Material Sciences at Isis
Executive at Edinburgh
Research and Innovation
at the University of
1 2 3 4
The ‘valley of death’, the divide between research and
commercialisation, is regarded as a major challenge in
the UK economy. Improving access to the right skills,
infrastructure and funding are the tools you will need
to emerge from the valley alive. The term ‘valley of
death’ refers to the funding gap that exists between
initial research and the commercialisation of new
technology. It describes the point where a business has
a working prototype for a product or service that has
not yet been developed enough to earn money through
Is the concept a result of not knowing enough
about how to bridge the gap? Peter Dobson states,
‘I believe, that the ‘valley of death’ issue is poorly
understood. In fact, he believes there are two. The first
gap occurs as the development reaches technology
readiness level (TRL) 4–5, and it has to be helped in
the UK. ‘Most start-ups don’t raise significant funds
in the first place,’ and that is what causes the first
gap. Dobson believes the second is between TRL
5–9 and is largely down to companies struggling to
get investment to take the prototypes through to
full commercial production. Dobson is not the only
one who believes there are two ‘valleys of death’
– Professor Derek Fray also notes that there are
different obstacles to funding a spin-out company and
transferring an idea to an existing company. ‘Some
universities have funds to support spin-out companies
and these funds can be used to leverage support from
government agencies. Business angels can also be
approached, but it is very important to have someone
on the team that has done this before.’
Many universities across the UK have formed spinout
companies to showcase the R&D work happening
in and around their departments. Isis Innovation is
responsible for creating spin-out companies based on
academic research generated within the University of
Oxford and has spun-out a new company every two
months on average. Richard Holliday said, ‘There are
numerous examples of advanced materials moving from
the lab to the market. From an Oxford perspective,
companies like Fuel3D and Oxford PV are just a couple
that have successfully made the transition from the lab
University research collaborations
In July 2015, the Government released the Dowling
Review of Business-University Research Collaborations
report to review the relationships between UK
businesses and university researchers to set out a
framework that supports future innovations. This report
emphasised the need to sustain long-term partnerships.
Peter Deakin stressed, ‘It is important to mention
the Dowling report and the need to avoid short-term
targets, particularly financial, for technology transfer
offices, in recognition of the fact that knowledge
exchange is a long-term process that needs sustained
effort. It isn’t something that can be measured on shortterm
There are business-led schemes available such as
those from Innovate UK and Scottish Enterprise, which
were set up to help drive innovation in science and
technology for the UK economy. ‘In recent years there
has been development of a network of Catapult and
innovation centres to help bridge the gap. The general
feeling is that it is a little too early to know if the
organisations that have been launched in the UK will be
successful on a long-term basis,’ said Deakin.
26 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
is spent on the
in the current
The likes of Crowdfunder, Crowdcube and Kickstarter
have been dominating the internet over the past
few years as researchers turn to global support for
an alternative source of investors. Sugru, a silicone
technology in the form of mouldable glue used for
fixing and sticking things, and SCiO, a Pocket Molecular
Sensor, are just two examples of successful funding
campaigns in the UK and USA, which have completed
the transition in taking a concept from the lab to fullscale
‘Crowdfunding is a comparatively new form of
funding for early stage technologies and is certainly
worth exploring. Successfully funded projects tend to
be ones that relate to an important social cause or can
capture the imagination of the public,’ said Holliday.
Faced with intense competition for government
money, scientists can turn to the public for support.
Although many crowdfunding websites are cautious
about revealing exactly how much money has been
raised for science, money from these sites has
contributed millions of pounds to R&D.
Gaining funding is a piece of the puzzle that researchers
quite often find the most challenging part. Bringing the
concept to life is just the start – it is then about moving
forward with investors to provide translation funding
– and it is funding that could see change over the next
few months. ‘A lot of people in the university sector are
anticipating the outcome of the comprehensive spending
review. The feeling around here is the hope that the
necessary funding is continued and not cut,’ says Deakin.
In light of the recent Autumn Statement, there has
been good and bad news for UK science, as the Chancellor
revealed the science budget would be protected in real
terms – equating to an increase to £4.7bln over the next
five years. However, the increase to the science budget
came amid a 17% cut for the Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills, which is in charge of the majority
of Government science spending.
Holliday suggests the first step towards gaining
funding and commercialisation is by working with
internal staff, such as the Technology Transfer Office,
if you are studying within university. ‘They will
help you assess the commercial potential of your
technology, protect the IP and help to find funds for
the development of the proof-of-concept. Your concept
doesn’t need to answer every question, but it should
demonstrate that the technology works and has a strong
Businesses and universities need confidence that
the R&D of any project is thorough and worth investing
in. Companies play an essential role in bringing a
product from a concept to full-scale products by either
developing them in-house, or building on an initial idea.
To do this, preparation is essential, as Professor Fray
suggests, ‘It is very important to make a compelling
presentation, preferably starting with something the
audience knows about – it is no use going into very
detailed science straight away. Once the audience is
interested, it is much easier to convince them about
It remains to be seen how the Autumn statement will
affect R&D funding for the science sector. For those
trying to move from lab to market, remember, ‘a
researcher setting out to commercialise a lab discovery
will be unlikely to see a return on their efforts for
many years. It will be a long journey, not a single
event,’ says Holliday.
There are many ways to get your concept or idea
out to the public. Deakin concludes, ‘The primary
way to disseminate knowledge and innovation is
through publication, and other forms of scientific
communication to help to build the collective body of
knowledge upon which future inventions are founded.’
Kickstarter as of 17
proposals to EPSRC
through peer review
The EPSRC provided
funding for 914
To read the Dowling
report in full, visit
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
and 17–18 February
29 February–03 March
Metallurgy for Non-Metallurgists
The course aims to provide a sound understanding of the scientific
principles of metallurgy and how to apply them to specific and process
metals in an industrial context.
Course venue: Sheffield, UK
Contact: Graham Small Email: email@example.com
Telephone: +44 (0)1142 224446 / +44(0)7545 429434
Level 3 Certificate in Packaging
Very little experience required. Designed to meet the needs of
everyone involved in the packaging industry, the Certificate in
Packaging course, held at the Grantham Training Centre, covers all
the major packaging functions to provide students with a sound
knowledge base upon which to build successful career development.
Contact: Lea Crompton Telephone: +44 (0)1476 513890
7–11 March and 9–13 May
Introduction to Rubber Technology
This course progresses from compounding, vulcanisation and processing
to finished products and their mechanical properties, environmental
resistance and testing. It is suitable for those who have had little
formal training, or for people whose core business is outside the rubber
industry. Recognised by the Institute for PD.
Course venue: Shawbury, UK
Contact: Gill Tunnicliffe Telephone: +44 (0)1939 250383
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.rapratraining.com
The five-day course provides thorough training and qualification for
potential welding inspection personnel who may become involved in the
witnessing, supervision or surveillance of welding inspection activities.
It covers theoretical and practical training sessions that link to current
industry standards, specifications and codes.
Course venue: Sheffield, UK
Contact: Nicola Dodsley Telephone: +44 (0)1226 765769
Email: email@example.com Website: www.lavender-ndt.com
Plastics Materials and Products
This two-day course will help attendees minimise the possibility of
product failure by improving their understanding of plastics materials.
It is suitable for designers and engineers, technical service, QA
personnel and others involved in product manufacture. Recognised by
the Institute for PD.
Course venue: Shawbury, UK
Contact: Gill Tunnicliffe Telephone: +44 (0)1939 250383
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.rapratraining.com
Inspection of Composites
This five-day course considers coin tapping, tapping hammers and
automated tapping techniques. Basic UT techniques (for non-NDT
personnel) including pulse-echo and through transmission using dryscan
and rapid scan equipment. Product technology of basic composite
structure manufacture showing inherent manufacturing defects and
potential defects associated within service materials.
Course venue: Penistone, UK
Contact: Nicola Dodsley Telephone: +44 (0)1226 765769
Email: email@example.com Website: www.lavender-ndt.com
5–6 7 Sept April
and 16 November
Dates throughout 2016
Exploring Plastics Extrusion
This course explores the extrusion process enabling optimisation of
processes, troubleshooting and avoidance of problems. The course is
relevant for process/production engineers, technical and QC personnel
and is recognised by the Institute for PD.
Course venue: Shawbury, UK
Contact: Gill Tunnicliffe Telephone: +44 (0)1939 250383
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.rapratraining.com
Ultrasonic Pre-Approval –
Welds, Castings, Wrought Products
This course is a combination of the UT Introduction and UT Theory and
Practice courses. It is PCN-recognised and provides excellent preparation
for Level 2 examinations. It meets in full the training hour requirements
as specified by the relevant PCN documentation. Courses available on
request. Individual modules are available at the Halesowen training centre.
Course venue: Rotherham and Halesowen, UK
Contact: Kelly Scott
Telephone: +44 (0) 114 399 5720 Website: www.imeche.org/arl
28 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Polyurethanes: An Introduction
This introductory course is suitable for processing technicians, analysts,
quality control and assurance technicians, EHS practitioners and sales
and purchasing personnel. The programme covers the manufacture of
polyurethanes – their generic chemistry and how additives are used to
achieve the modifications, which give them a wide range of properties.
Recognised by the Institute for PD.
Course venue: Shawbury, UK
Contact: Gill Tunnicliffe Telephone: +44 (0)1939 250383
Email: email@example.com Website: www.rapratraining.com
Level 5, Diploma in
Internationally recognised as the premier degree-level qualification
for packaging professionals. This popular residential course is held
at the IOM3 Training Academy Centre in Grantham covering 15 days
over three months. The course combines classroom activities and selfdirected
studying. In addition, many students learn from the interaction
with those from other parts of the industry. Two-to-three years or more
Contact: Lea Crompton Telephone: +44 (0)1476 513890
Dates throughout 2016/2017
Metals Technology Certificate
A co-ordinated programme intended primarily for
technical staff routinely involved in the processing or testing of metalsbased
products, or as technical background for staff in engineering and
commercial functions. Candidates will be required to complete seven
courses and multiple-choice examinations. Successful candidates will
be issued with a University of Sheffield Certificate of Achievement.
Course venue: Sheffield, UK
Contact: Graham Small Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +44 (0)1142 224446 / +44(0)7545 429434
Ultrasonic Testing –
Corrosion Mapping PCN Level 2
Designed to train technicians working in asset management and
dealing with corrosion and erosion issues, to measure the competency
of personnel working in these areas on plant assets. Suitable for all
plan engineers and inspectors, particularly those working in offshore
oil and gas.
Course venue: Sheffield, UK
Contact: Kelly Scott
Telephone: +44 (0)114399572 Website: www.trainingsolutions.imeche.org
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Natalie Daniels speaks to Lucy Ackland, a Project
Manager at Renishaw, about her early career in
engineering and bringing together academia
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND
I started an apprenticeship at the age of 16, at
Renishaw, after deciding I wanted to be an engineer
at 13 years old. There, I studied one day a week and
had four days in work. I progressed through a number
of different qualifications, largely around technical
manufacturing and engineering, while undertaking sixmonth
placements around the company. At the end of
my four-year apprenticeship, I carried on studying for a
degree, and Renishaw was happy to support me. In 2012,
I achieved a first class honours degree in Mechanical
and Manufacturing Engineering. I also spend a lot of my
time volunteering with STEM, encouraging young people
into the industry and trying to increase the female
numbers in engineering.
DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY AT WORK.
I am largely a Project Manager in a group
dealing with special projects – we look into new
technologies to see whether they are worth
developing further into products. The projects
vary, however, additive manufacturing is one of
my favourite areas. I also have projects to do with
coatings and metallurgy, which I like, as I can get
involved with all areas of the business. My role
involves bringing people together – often people
from different sites and in different organisations.
My heart lies with mechanical engineering as well.
I try to spend a couple of hours a day working on
mechanical design to keep my technical hat on, as
this is an area I have always particularly enjoyed.
WHAT MADE YOU CONTINUE WITH HIGHER
EDUCATION AFTER YOUR APPRENTICESHIP?
I had always been interested in studying for a degree,
at school I performed well in maths and science. For
me, it wasn't about not doing a degree – it was the
fact that because I had already known for so long that
engineering was what I wanted to do, I just wanted to
get started, and not wait any longer. I always planned to
do a degree but completing an apprenticeship first was
an alternative route, rather than a superior one.
Now, a lot more companies are sending apprentices
onto a degree. I believe apprenticeships get a bad
reputation and a bit of stereotyping, and I hope
stories like mine help people see that it can be an
alternative. For me, doing an apprenticeship had a load
of advantages over the normal university route. For
example, I don't have any debt, and I have 11 years’
work experience under my belt at a young age. I think
it is a fabulous way of doing it, and I recommend it to a
lot of young people.
30 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
© Local World
WHAT AREAS HAVE CAUGHT YOUR EYE IN
THE PAST YEAR?
It is not often that engineering hits the headlines,
and additive manufacturing has done just that. It
interests people from a large and varied background
and captures their imagination. In 2014, I spent a year
with our additive manufacturing products division, in
Staffordshire, to help them develop their machines. It
really hit home my love for that technology. If someone
mentions AM to me, I am more likely to jump on
that project, but a lot of the time it is a collaborative
decision between my manager and myself.
IN YOUR ROLE, HOW DO YOU BRING
ACADEMIA AND INDUSTRY TOGETHER?
One of my major projects is working with Innovate UK,
Bath University and a global manufacturer of precision
control systems. It is my responsibility to bring everyone
together on that. It has been a real eye opener for me,
working with the academics and people from different
industries in a collaborative environment.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 'VALLEY
I think it is a real shame when something is worked on for
many years and doesn't get commercialised. You have to
question why it hasn't been and a lot of the time I think
it is because the focus is elsewhere. This can be true of
some universities that are only interested in kudos from
the science and research and not the commercial aspects
of a technology. The way Renishaw and other companies
are doing it is to really put the commercialisation at the
forefront of the project. I think there is a lot of fantastic
work being done at the moment. There is definitely a
change with universities wanting to work with industries
like ours. It is about getting expertise from people like us
to try and focus on the commercialisation.
There is a broad spectrum across the UK – I don't
think European universities have to fight for their
money as hard as in the UK or USA. They get more
involved in the science and worry less about the
commercialisation, whereas in the USA it is very much
about commercialisation and making money from it. I
think we lie somewhere in between, which I don't think
is a bad thing.
It seems to me that Innovate UK is getting more
focused about the monetary aspects of projects that
they fund. While it is right to look after tax payers'
money, I worry that there will be too much focus on
short-term monetary aspects and not enough on the
longer term commercial benefits of the projects that
it supports. This could therefore make companies more
conservative in their technical ambitions, rather than
trying to get support for more challenging breakthrough
HOW DO YOU TRY TO BRIDGE THIS GAP?
Because we have been around a long time, we have a
number of good relationships with many companies
from a variety of UK industry sectors. With universities,
we are lucky where Renishaw is located, in the sense
that we have some very good universities around
us, and particularly universities like Bath, that have
some key people who are keen on working with us.
When universities have people who are willing to
put themselves out there and form relationships
with industries, they are going to go further with
commercialisation. It is the ones that don't have that
focus or drive that will struggle. It is a build up of which
universities can make this happen and how much they
are driven on commercial considerations and gaining
funding to try and make it work.
To find out more about Lucy and the Renishaw projects,
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Until recently, the idea of engineering the earth’s climate to reduce the
impact of global warming was widely regarded to be closer to the realm
of mad scientist than real academic study. But, increasingly, it’s making
the headlines. Rhiannon Garth Jones finds out more.
© Bjarki Sigursveins
32 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
© Hannes Grobe
More than one volcanic explosion has injected
such high amounts of sulphur dioxide into the
stratosphere that the sunlight reaching the
earth's surface was temporarily reduced, lowering the
global temperature. The eruption of Mount Tambora,
Indonesia, in 1815, and of the Philippines' Mount
Pinatubo, in 1991, both reduced temperatures around
the world by 0.4–0.7°C. As world leaders try to agree
on measures to stop the global climate rising by more
than 2°C, the idea that we could artificially create a
similar temperature drop is understandably appealing.
However, the year following Mount Tambora’s
explosion was known as ‘the Year Without Summer’
in the northern hemisphere and subsequent crop
failures from North America to Bengal caused the
worst famines of the 19 th Century, according to a study
by Clive Oppenheimer, Professor of Volcanology at
the University of Cambridge, UK. Clearly, any method
that scientists come up with to artificially replicate
the effects of large-scale volcanic eruptions on
global climate will have to identify and mitigate the
The 2010 Eyjafjallajökull
eruption, one of
the biggest volcanic
eruptions in the 21 st
Aerial view of the
ice sheet on much of
Greenland's east coast,
which has melted in
The time is now
This type of fiddling with the Earth’s climate is often
referred to as geoengineering. A wide range of options
have been proposed over the years, many inspired by
existing natural phenomena, and the approach remains
controversial. But the growing consensus about the likely
increase in global temperatures and the subsequent
impact has lead to a number of high-profile calls for
greater research into possible solutions. Geoengineering
has been pushed further into the spotlight following the
recent COP21 conference in Paris, the focus placed on
the issue by the Pope in 2015 and the acknowledgement
by leaders of developing countries, such as India’s
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of their unwillingness
to sacrifice an improving quality of life by reducing
their carbon emissions. More and more, it seems, we
are willing to acknowledge that our carbon emissions
are contributing to rising temperatures, without a
concurrent willingness to take action. Geoengineering
aims to fill that gap between our awareness and action. If
we can (relatively) cheaply prevent the predicted future
climate without altering our quality of life, its supporters
argue, why don’t we try?
The arguments on both sides suffer from the same
problem – we just don’t know enough to present a
comprehensive case, as the few previous experiments
haven’t released their results. But, as research and
funding in this area gains momentum, we are starting
to get an idea of what some of the different approaches
might be and the main ones break down into two broad
groups – solar reflection and carbon capture.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
© Patrick Kelley
Reflecting the sun
The cooling effect caused by volcanoes is due to the
particles of sulphur dioxide spewed out in the eruptions,
which reflect the incoming rays of sun. This usually
lowers the Earth’s temperature for around a year,
though the effect can last up to five. The particles
eventually fall, although the acid rain they create is not
considered alarming. We could spray sulphur particles
precisely, maximising the effect by reflecting more light
There are obvious pitfalls to this approach, as well
as ones that we can expect further research to reveal.
Firstly, the cooling effect isn’t permanent, so we would
have to spray continuously to keep the temperature
at the same level. If we didn’t, and the artificial shield
created by the sulphur dioxide disintegrated suddenly,
the subsequent rise in temperature could cause instant
and serious problems, particularly if nothing was done
to reduce emissions in the meantime. Secondly, we don’t
know how precisely we could manage the reduction – a
few tenths of a degree lower than intended and we could
end up in a decade of ‘no summer’, devastating crops and
altering weather patterns.
This technique might be used in small, targeted ways
– cooling a small section of ocean in the right place
could limit the severity of a hurricane, for instance, or
as a drastic measure when faced by an equally drastic
event, such as a breakdown of the Indian monsoon.
David Keith and James Anderson, both professors at
Harvard University and the chief administrators of Bill
Gates’ Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research
(Ficer), have been conducting research into solar
reflection for years. The two stratospheric scientists are
currently hoping to get support from NASA to launch a
helium balloon, at an estimated cost of around US$10m,
carrying sulphur and water vapour 20,000 metres
into the atmosphere to spend a day monitoring their
interaction with the ozone – previous research suggests
that it will react with chlorine in the atmosphere,
resulting in damage to the ozone. Keith and Anderson
believe the impact will be less than a commercial airline
flight. In the absence of many other such studies, it
is hoped that it will contribute towards a structure
governing similar research in the future.
Keith acknowledges the dangers of solar
geoengineering, publicly stating, ‘I don’t necessarily
Melting Arctic ice, which
is opening up sea lanes
but causing concerns
about the impact of
34 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
programme in South
Oregon, the USA.
Reforestation is one of
the simplest and most
popular attempts to
believe we should do it. There are very legit arguments
that we shouldn’t. But I think fundamentally, at this
point, I’m an advocate for taking it seriously and doing
serious research […] because it potentially has large
benefits. That’s not crazy.’
Removing the issue
The other main approach to this issue is capturing
carbon, an area of research that has seen much greater
coverage in recent years, including in Materials World.
Carbon capture could allow us to reach a ‘net zero’
status, without reducing our use of fossil fuels and
possibly without the same consequences as solar
The UK has been leading the way in this research,
with two major carbon capture and storage (CCS)
demonstration projects using post-combustion amine
capture and oxyfuel combustion, being developed at
Peterhead, Scotland, and Drax, north Yorkshire, over
the past few years. However, the Government funding
for these projects was withdrawn in the Autumn 2015
budget (see page 12 for more information). Shell,
which was one of the remaining candidates for its
Peterhead project, announced its disappointment,
stating the technology ‘has the potential to bring huge
value to the UK, both in terms of immediate emissions
reductions and developing knowledge for the benefit of
a wider industry’. Such a case highlights the problems
geoengineering faces across the board – while some
people are excited by the possibilities, there is too little
funding available for the research to answer the many
questions about each approach’s consequences.
Post-combustion amine capture and oxyfuel
combustion are not the only methods of removing
carbon from the atmosphere. One promising area
is ocean-fertilisation, where nutrients such as iron,
nitrogen and phosphorus are added to the ocean to
increase marine food production and absorb carbon
dioxide. The basic aim of ocean fertilisation is to increase
the stocks of phytoplankton, which form the basis of
the marine food chain and are found in extremely high
concentrations – called a phytoplankton bloom – in
ocean areas that are rich in nutrients, particularly iron
and nitrogen. Phytoplankton absorb carbon dissolved
in the ocean for photosynthesisation before, if uneaten,
sinking to the deep ocean. In theory, significantly
increasing the concentrations of phytoplankton would
capture more carbon as well as improving sustainable
fisheries in those areas. Iron is preferred to nitrogen
and phosphorus because it has the highest potential for
sequestration per unit mass added. It has been argued
that, in principle, this approach is no different to the
way we have expanded the nitrogen cycle in soil by the
mass use of fertilisers, although the speed of the process
would certainly be faster.
One experiment in ocean fertilisation was conducted
in 2012, 300km off the west coast of Canada’s Queen
Charlotte Islands, when the Haida Salmon Restoration
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Corporation, funded by an indigenous tribe in British
Columbia, added around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate
across 5,000km 2 of an ocean eddy in the Pacific. The
corporation and its main advisor on the project, Russ
George, focused heavily on the carbon capture value
before the work began, as well as the likelihood of
improving the production of salmon in the area. In 2013,
the salmon runs rose from 50 million fish to 226 million
and the experiment allowed NASA to collect images
of the successful phytoplankton bloom, giving a much
greater idea of the consequences of ocean fertilisation.
The Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation experiment
remains controversial and is an excellent case study for
the issue of geoengineering. The action was funded by
a demographic that is likely to disproportionately suffer
the impact of any climate change, without the approval
from the Canadian Government, it may have ignored
UN protocols on marine dumping and, while it has had
initially promising results, it may well have unforeseen
negative effects. The possibility that other affected
groups and individuals might take similar action is a
major concern, especially when the promised results
are so exciting.
Michael Thompson, Managing Director for the Forum
for Climate Engineering Assessment, believes that we are
not realistically at the stage where we can have a proper
debate on the topic, but that ‘it is time to bring this
conversation out of the closet. The best way forward
is to have an open, robust conversation about all the
potential strategic responses to climate change that take
into consideration the voices of the most vulnerable to
climate impacts, those with the most to gain, and the
most to lose, from any potential deployment of climate
For that conversation, we need to know more about
those technologies that look most viable, meaning we
now urgently need more research. If geoengineering can
give us time to change our carbon emissions without
drastically reducing our quality of life, we surely want to
know. Similarly, if attempts to engineer the ocean, the
atmosphere, or any other part of our world might lead
to catastrophic results for the planet and its population,
we need to know before any large-scale action is
taken. Geoengineering remains neglected by much of
the serious academic community, but we need to start
giving the idea attention – not least because groups like
the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation already are.
Above: A natural
in the Black Sea.
Right: A phytoplankton
bloom in the South
Atlantic Ocean, off the
coast of Argentina,
covering an area about
480km by 80km.
36 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
The world's largest oil exporter is making steps into
renewable generation. Simon Frost looks at the
technologies being considered.
Sunlight and space are the fundamental
prerequisites for large-scale solar power, but Saudi
Arabia, which has both in abundance, is not a
country you would typically associate with renewables.
The 40 th most populous country in the world, it ranks
sixth in domestic oil consumption and 10 th in CO 2
emissions. Its population of 31 million is a little less than
half that of the UK's, but every day it consumes just
over twice as much oil.
Heavily subsidised electricity costs Saudi citizens
as little as US$0.01/kWh, compared with the UK's
US$0.22, while petroleum is fixed at US$0.61 per gallon
– 10 times cheaper than the UK's US$6.09. With such
plentiful, cheap oil, the kingdom’s record of energy
wastage is perhaps no surprise. Power generation
is dominated by inefficient oil-firing processes,
air conditioning units pump out cool air non-stop,
accounting for 70% of the kingdom's electricity use in
2013, and insulation in buildings is rare. The region’s
dearth of rainfall also means that fresh water must be
produced through the energy-intensive desalination of
seawater (see James Perkins' feature on desalination in
the December 2015 issue of Materials World).
Environmental effects aside, Saudi Arabia's domestic
reliance on oil now threatens to eat into its exports. The
overwhelming source of its income and its dominance
in OPEC, oil exports fund the country's services and
protect its citizens from paying any income tax. An
influential 2011 report published by Chatham House,
Burning Oil to Keep Cool – The Hidden Energy Crisis
in Saudi Arabia, estimated that at the current rate of
domestic consumption Saudi Arabia would become a
net importer of oil by 2038. For an economy so reliant
on oil, that is not an option. Second only in global oil
production to the USA, and to Venezuela in proven
reserves, Saudi Arabia is now turning to solar power.
First steps into solar
So far, however, the kingdom’s progress towards a solar
future has been slow. It began in 2010, when the late
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced by
royal decree the establishment of the King Abdullah
City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), an
independent organisation responsible for the kingdom’s
renewable and atomic development. In 2013, it set the
target of 41GW solar capacity by 2032, around a third
of the country’s forecast energy need of 120GW. In
solar thermal generation,
such as the Solar Energy
Generating System in
the Mojave Desert,
California, is well suited
to regions with high
levels of direct sunlight.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
January 2015, however, K.A.CARE President, Hashim
Yamani, announced that the milestone was being pushed
back to 2040, citing the need for more time to assess
the technologies it will use.
Of the delay, Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of Saudiowned
ACWA Power, said, ‘I remain frustrated’, but
noted that the kingdom’s desire to manufacture its own
panels is reasonable cause for delay. ‘If they are going
to invest so much in this sector they want to make sure
they have the whole value chain,’ he said – the kingdom
has pledged US$109bln to its solar project.
‘I imagine that there will be a lot of ground-mounted
PV, because that’s the cheapest way of doing it’ says
Professor Stuart Irvine, Director of the Centre for Solar
Energy Research at Glyndwr University, UK. While solar
materials are a fertile and diverse field of research
extending beyond the well-developed crystalline silicon
technology, it is far from being superseded. 'Mistakes
were made in the past in believing that thin film PV
technologies such as amorphous silicon, thin film silicon
cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium selenide
would just displace crystalline silicon because it is
inherently cheaper to produce. You also have to factor
the scale of manufacture, and crystalline silicon has just
got bigger and bigger. If you want a module producing
300W at a low cost and you're not worried about
weight, as with ground-mounted PV, then you'll choose
Irvine’s current work focuses on the potential
of thin-film photovoltaics, working towards higher
efficiencies and tailoring thin-film products for potential
niches within the market. ‘One of the things we’re
working on is thin-film PV on ultra-thin glass that’s
designed for a very high power-to-weight ratio, which
could have applications in space or for industrial roofs,
for example, where weight is an issue. I am sure that in
Saudi Arabia they will be looking at bespoke buildings
with integrated PV that make a bit of a statement, too,
so they’ll be interested in the architectural aspects and
Thin film PV could offer another important
advantage over that of crystalline silicon – silicon
panels lose 0.5% of their power output for every degree
Celsius rise above the standard test conditions of 25°C.
‘If it’s running at 45°C, you can knock off 10% of the
panel’s output, so it’s significant,’ says Irvine. ‘For
thin film PV this tends to be lower – one of the selling
points for First Solar, the world’s largest thin film PV
manufacturer, is that they have a superior temperature
coefficient of 0.25% loss for each degree. That’s not so
important if you want to install in the UK, because we
don’t see such high temperatures, but in Saudi Arabia it
could be very important.’
crystalline silicon solar
PV, as in La Calahorra,
Spain, currently offers
the lowest cost.
38 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
energy subsidies cost
The target of 41GW
by 2040 is marginally
higher than Germany’s
current solar capacity of
Climate Action Tracker
estimates that the
to Saudi Arabia’s
target will create
960Mt CO 2
Dubai sets the bar
While ambitious plans for buildings with top-tobottom
integrated PV are yet to materialise in its
capital Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is
rapidly becoming the Middle East's leader in solar
generation, and ACWA Power is heavily involved.
ACWA was confirmed in July 2015 to be implementing
the second phase of the city’s Mohammad Bin Rashid
Al Maktoum Solar Park, which will add 200MW of solar
capacity to its existing 13MW by 2017. The park has a
planned capacity of 1GW by 2019, when Dubai aims
to source 7% of its power from renewables, and 3GW
by 2030, by which date it aims for a 15% share, with
rooftop solar PV being mandatory in the city, as UAE
President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, announced
in December 2015.
But most significant is the benchmark that the
project sets for the price of solar power – it will
offer solar-sourced electricity at an unprecedented
US$0.059/kWh, thanks to a 27-year US$344m debt
financing loan from Abu Dhabi’s First Gulf Bank and
two Saudi banks — the National Commercial Bank
and the Samba Financial Group, at an interest rate
of just 4%. 'That project shows the potential because
it gets the cost down to the utility-scale generation
level rather than simply having grid parity with the
retail price of electricity,' says Irvine. 'Everybody likes
the idea of renewable power but nobody wants to
pay more for their energy. I tend to believe that the
downward trend in the price of PV will continue and
it will become one of the cheapest forms of electricity
in the future.'
ACWA Power is also running the world's largest
concentrated solar power (CSP) project – the
Ouarzazate Solar Thermal Plant in Morocco. 'There
really are horses for courses when it comes to solar
technologies. Rather than the one-size-fits all
crystalline silicon modules we have today, we’ll see
products in the future that are much more geared to
a particular application and, in that respect, different
materials will have different advantages,' says Irvine.
'CSP is, basically, heating water. It relies on a lot of
direct sunlight – the amount of solar energy that falls
on a square metre of earth. In the UK, half of that
energy is actually diffuse, but in countries like Morocco,
the vast majority is direct, so they have the potential
for concentrators. In these areas it certainly makes
sense and it will go side-by-side with solar PV.'
A modest target?
In August 2015, the UK’s Department of Energy
and Climate Change (DECC) noted that the UK had
surpassed 8GW of solar capacity, and Irvine notes that
the solar industry now believes that DECC’s aspiration
for 20GW of solar capacity by 2020 could easily be
exceeded. But is the UK capable of generating an
equivalent amount of solar power to Saudi Arabia’s
41GW target? ‘We’re now installing more than 1GW a
year, getting on for 2GW, and that can only accelerate,
so I really expect us to be beyond that by 2040. As
prices come down, there’s going to be even more
incentive to install PV,’ he says. With the uptake of solar
power in even the world’s most oil-reliant economy,
that price can surely only continue to fall.
Saudi capital Riyadh, as
viewed from Kingdom
Tower, has a poor record
of energy wastage.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Dr Stéphane Rols explains the role of neutrons in the development
of the next generation of energy materials and the work being
done by the Institute Laue-Langevin, France, in this area.
Developments in materials science are heralding a
new generation of energy materials. According
to the Director of Science at the Institut
Laue-Langevin (ILL), Dr Helmut Schober, ‘Physical and
chemical processes are at the heart of the energy
problem – whether in solar cells, nuclear reactors,
or modern batteries. In order to optimise current
technology or to develop new techniques, it is essential
to understand the processes and the evolution of
materials at the atomic level.' Neutron scattering is one
of the best analytical probes available for gathering new
information of this type. This is especially true if the
materials contain elements that neutrons will highlight,
like hydrogen or lithium.
Inside an operating fuel cell
Fuel cells are one of the key green-energy technologies
being developed as an alternative to fossil fuels. They
convert chemical energy – derived from the oxidation
of a fuel such as hydrogen – into electricity and heat.
The proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) is
one such electrochemical device, and is an ideal power
source for electric vehicles, because its components are
relatively light, it is fast-starting at room temperature,
and has a high power-density.
The PEMFC has a complicated layered system.
It converts hydrogen and oxygen to water using
catalytic electrodes separated by a polymer-membrane
electrolyte. Increasing the PEMFC’s performance and
longevity, as well as reducing its cost, are crucial issues
to address for the large-scale application of fuel cells
– and require a deep understanding of the system’s
components and behaviour. One of the main issues
affecting the power output, stability and lifetime is
the amount and distribution of water within the cell.
The water distribution in the active areas should be
as homogeneous as possible. Moreover, a critical
problem for operation is maintaining the balance of
water within the membrane – keeping the right level
of hydration while avoiding drying out or flooding
New results from experiments conducted by ILL’s
Lionel Porcar, in collaboration with CEA-LITEN scientists
Arnaud Morin, Gérard Gebel and Sandrine Lyonnard,
provide invaluable information that can optimise the
design of the next generation of high performance fuel
cells. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), when used
on a specially constructed neutron-transparent fuel
cell, has proved to be a non-intrusive, highly-sensitive
proton probe. SANS measures the deviation at small
angles of a neutron beam due to structures of small size
in the sample. ‘Small’ means dimensions of a few tenths
to about 100 nanometres, such as clusters in alloys
and polymers. They found that it was the only method
that could measure simultaneously the variation in
water content in both vertical and horizontal planes
throughout the cell. They have now carried out several
SANS experiments at the ILL on the D22 diffractometer
– the high neutron flux and the flexibility of its setup
make D22 an instrument particularly suited for realtime
experiments and weakly scattering samples.
A stack of PEMFC fuel
cells, like those that
would be used in a car.
40 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
These experiments were used to systematically screen the impact of operating
conditions on local water distribution. The experimental team varied the membrane
thickness (20–200µm), gas composition, temperature (-10–80°C), current density (up
to 0.8 A.cm -2 ), pressure (up to 300Kpa) and relative humidity of the fed gases (from
0–100%), and investigated transient regimes during on/off cycles. They were able to
record a series of 3D water-distribution maps with unprecedented spatial and temporal
resolutions. After developing a method to analyse the SANS data in a working cell,
they could precisely correlate the water content and distribution to both the operating
conditions and cell design.
The tests showed good agreement between the performance and the average
water content inside the membrane as well as outside. It is possible to estimate the
membrane resistance from the water profile and the knowledge of proton conductivity
as a function of water content.
The incorporation of
atoms (white balls)
into the iron–antimony
structure reduces its
Making the most of waste heat
Today, power generation and consumption rely on inefficient processes, creating high
energy losses through waste heat. The development of more efficient thermoelectric
materials, which convert heat into electricity, is resulting in renewed interest in using
them for power generation. A promising way of converting waste heat to useful
energy is offered by thermoelectric materials (TEMs). The principle is that an electric
current is induced when one side of a slab of the material is heated (for example, by
waste heat) and the other side is kept cold.
Electrical energy is propagated from one side to the other, and can then be
harvested. To achieve the highest electric currents requires maintaining the steepest
thermal gradient. This means the inevitable, accompanying heat flow across the
gradient must be suppressed as much as possible.
This heat is transported in two ways. Firstly, via the actual flow of electrons and,
secondly, via the vibrations of the atoms forming the crystal lattice of the TEM – the
acoustic phonons. The aim is therefore to identify materials in which heat transport
by acoustic phonons is kept to a minimum, while maintaining the electron flow.
Semiconductors are the most efficient TEMs because their electrical conductivity
increases with temperature, and the heat flow mediated by phonons can be minimised
by tailoring their vibrational states.
There are several strategies to achieve the highest efficiencies in TEMs. In
general, the more complex the crystal structure is, the fewer of the heat-carrying
excitations are present, and the more likely they are to be scattered and stopped from
propagation. Research led by ILL scientist Michael Marek Koza shows that host–guest
materials such as cobalt- and iron-antimonide-based skutterudites are proving to be
of particular interest. These materials are characterised by having voids in their host
structures, which can accept heavy rare-earth atoms as guests. These guests act as
‘rattlers’ and dissipate the vibrations, but do not obstruct the electrical current.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Right (top): The planar
of the flat liquid-crystal
Right (bottom): The
HAT6 then twists
and tilts, giving a
structure that improves
conductivity in liquid
-crystal solar cells .
Koza et al’s study results give unequivocal evidence of essentially temperatureindependent
lattice dynamics with well-defined phase relations between guest and
host dynamics. The vibrational modes of the heavy ion fillers are coherently coupled
with the host-lattice dynamics and associated with eigenmodes of low energy owing
to the heavy mass of these atoms.
These conclusions are in disagreement with the ‘phonon glass’ paradigm based on
individual ‘rattling’ of the guest atoms and have had an essential impact on the design
and improvement of thermoelectric materials and on the development of microscopic
models needed for these efforts.
Another successful approach is to create selective disorder in the crystalline
lattice, forming random scattering channels for the acoustic phonons. In research by
Voneshan et al, an Einstein-like rattling mode at low energy was directly observed,
involving large anharmonic displacements of the sodium ions inside multi-vacancy
clusters. These rattling modes suppress the thermal conductivity by a factor of six
compared with vacancy-free NaCoO 2
Optimising the efficiency of such TEMs requires a comprehensive understanding
of their microscopic dynamics. Inelastic neutron scattering (INS) is a unique tool for
meeting this requirement, where the intensity of the scattered neutrons is analysed
with respect to the momentum ( ) and the energy ( ) exchanged between the
neutrons and the scattering system. The characteristic energies and momentum of
neutrons in INS experiments perfectly match the kinematics of lattice vibrations in
TEMs. In this way, not only can the distribution of vibrational states be measured, but
also the specific modes that work against the overall lattice thermal conductivity.
We can determine whether the vibrational excitations are of collective heat-carrying
character, as well as shed light on the material’s velocity of sound, elastic properties
and heat capacity. The energy resolution of modern neutron spectrometers renders the
measurement of the lifetime of relevant excitations feasible, and allows us to discern
the effectiveness of TEMs in atomic detail.
Improving liquid-crystal solar cells
Sunlight is the most abundant energy source, and a great deal of research is going into
photovoltaic devices that harness incident solar energy. They employ materials in which
a charge separation is induced by photons to create a flow of charge carriers (negative
electrons and the positive ‘holes’ they leave behind). Thanks to their low cost, inherent
flexibility and relative ease of processing, photovoltaics composed of organic materials
are potential candidates for the next generation of solar cells.
One particular group of organic materials that is of interest is discotic liquid
crystals (DLCs). These have a molecular structure consisting of a planar core composed
of several conjoined, electron-rich hexagonal (aromatic) carbon rings, to which are
bound a symmetrical arrangement of hydrocarbon tails that spread out from the core.
The resulting disc-like molecules self-assemble into stable columnar superstructures,
which possess both solid and liquid-like properties arising from the rather stiff
aromatic cores and ‘floppy’ hydrocarbon tails respectively. The columns act as onedimensional
‘molecular wires’ that allow charges to ‘hop’ across overlapping electronrich
cores when combined with an electron acceptor. The charge separation results in
an electric current when connected to an external circuit.
However, organic photovoltaics tend to suffer from a poor dissociation of charges,
limiting their solar conversion efficiency. In the case of DLCs, the overall conductivity
is strongly affected by the local conformation of the molecules, structural
irregularities in the columns, and the disorderly motions induced by the fluidic tails.
Knowledge of how each of these factors limits the hopping of the charge carriers
along the columnar stack is valuable for the design of discotic compounds. This calls
for a careful study of structure-versus-dynamics relationships at the microscopic level.
42 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
The Nellis Solar Power
Plant array, Nevada,
USA. The system
70,000 solar panels.
Neutron scattering is a convenient tool for studying this in molecular organic
systems – along with neutron diffraction, these techniques can reveal the structural
arrangements within the system, and probe molecular motions on the required
picosecond (ps) timescale. In this way, one could elucidate the morphology and
motions in a prototype discotic liquid crystal, hexakis(alkyloxy)triphenylene (HAT6),
and determine the effect of the disorder on its conductivity.
An international collaboration between ILL’s Mohamed Zbiri and Mark Johnson
with representatives from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, and ANSTO,
Australia, has uncovered the fundamental mechanisms that influence conductivity in a
new type of solar-energy material. Using the time-of-flight spectrometer IN6, motions
on two timescales were observed from the QENS spectra, which the team assigned to
molecular translations (0.2 ps), and tilt-and-twist motions (7 ps) of the whole HAT6
molecule. They indicated that the motion of the hydrocarbon tails was driven by the
core dynamics. The diffraction data, obtained with the diffractometer D16, highlighted
considerable conformational disorder, which caused displacements of the planar
aromatic cores along the stacking axis. These displacements act as structural traps
for the charge carriers because they persist for several tens of picoseconds, which is
longer than the characteristic timescale for the charge-hopping.
It turned out that the large disorder in the core-to-core distances is the major
factor limiting the conductivity of HAT6. The charge-hopping rate decreases
exponentially as adjacent cores get further apart. Using larger discotic molecules,
which have higher conductivities, as a benchmark, the team found that the structural
defects resulting from variations in core-to-core distances reduce conductivity by a
factor of about 100.
A Siemens plant
generation of electricity
using waste heat from
Manipulating the resources of energy provided by nature empowers us to change our
environment. All through human history, progress in exploiting energy resources has
triggered important societal changes. To maintain the current model of civilisation, we
have no other option than to make energy sustainable.
In the universe, energy is not in short supply – the problem is harvesting and properly
distributing power in a way that does not jeopardise our delicate terrestrial biosphere.
The possibilities offered by neutron science could help us do so.
Dr Stéphane Rols is an Instrument Scientist and carbon nanotube specialist at the
Institut Laue-Langevin. For more information on the ILL, please visit www.ill.eu
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
The future of steel:
time to wake up
Professor Julian Allwood considers the recent developments in the
European steel industry and offers an approach for the future.
Recent news from the steel industry in the UK and
Europe has been grim – plant closures, low prices,
reduced output. These are hard times for the steel
industry in Europe, but in a wider context they’re not
surprising and neither were they unanticipated. The
most modern steel making technology in the world is in
China, which has significantly lower labour costs than
Europe. Globally, steel production has seen astonishing
growth since 2000, driven by construction in China.
This has, in turn, driven explosive growth in steelmaking
capacity. Construction in China has peaked and
now Chinese steel makers can make more than they
need, so what’s going to happen next?
Globally, there is excess capacity, and it is unlikely that
any more will be needed. The forecast of global steel
requirements to 2050 are shown to the right (figure
1) and, while the anticipated production of around
2,500Mt/year in 2050 is significantly greater than
today’s 1,500Mt/year, this expansion will be met by
increasing production from scrap. On average, steel
products last for around 35-40 years (figure 3), and
steel is the most recycled material on the planet so, to
a reasonable approximation and by volume, all future
growth in steel demand can be met by electric arc
furnace (EAF) production from scrap steel. In developed
economies, we build up our stocks of steel until we
have around 13Mt per person, and replace them at a
rate that leads us in the UK to a per capita demand for
production (globally) of liquid steel at around 500kg
per person per year. The forecast future growth in steel
requirements can therefore be served by expansion of
the secondary steel route – today's primary production
capacity will be enough.
And, in fact, the outlook for the owners of Europe’s
primary capacity is worse, for two reasons. Firstly,
economic development in India is likely to trigger
further expansion in global primary steel making
capacity with more modern plants, and even lower
labour costs. Secondly, if we decide to take action
globally on climate change, and let’s hope we do, then
the primary steel industry must shrink. Steel making
currently contributes around 9% of all energy- and
process-related anthropogenic emissions, largely from
the primary production process. Efficiency measures
won’t reduce this by much because the industry is
already so good in this area. The top performers in the
steel industry run the most energy-efficient processes
in the world, and best-practice steel production now
occurs with an energy intensity around twice the
chemical energy of the bond between iron and oxygen
atoms in haematite. No other industry comes close to
this staggering achievement.
The numbers about global capacity requirements are
not shocking news. They’ve been known for many years,
but they’ve been ignored. The bosses of European steel
companies have continued their policy of the past thirty
years, hoping to create value by further innovations in
composition and processing to create yet more exotic
properties in steel. This has led to great innovations but
many of them are applicable only at small scale and the
steel industry doesn’t exist to serve small-scale niche
markets. It’s a massive global producer of a commodity,
and the users of reinforcing bars, steel sections and
car body panels don’t particularly require further
innovation in composition. While the strength of steel
has increased due to recent innovations, its stiffness
remains unchanged, and little progress is being made in
improving the trade-off between strength and ductility.
The European steel industry has worked with
intelligence, creativity and commitment to improve its
older assets. Access to local knowledge and skills in the
development of upgrades, automation, process control, IT,
sensors and commitment to maintenance and the control
of air quality and much more has led to extraordinary
An electric arc furnace
at the Allegheny Ludlum
44 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Right: Forecast global
demand for steel and
anticipated growth in
steel production from
scrap (assuming a
life-span of ~40 years
for primary steel). The
height of the purple area
is roughly constant into
the future, suggesting
no further increase
in primary capacity is
1960 1990 2020
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Rest of world
Exports of finsihed
in final goods
Buildings and infrastructure
Steel in end-of-life goods
Average life expectancy
for steel = 38 years
Steel end use = 1025 Mte/year
Other metal products
Above: The UK typically
generates around 10Mt
of steel scrap annually.
The figures shows the
estimated flows of steel
in 2007, activated by
UK consumption and
Global tonnage (2008)
Bridges, tunnnels and offshore
Left: The estimated lifespan
of final goods made
with steel weighted by
application. The total
of 1,025Mt of steel
entering use in 2008
of around 1,500Mt of
liquid steel, due to losses
and scrap in the supply
chain, most of which is
collected and returned
into future production.
(office blocks, industrial sheds, etc)
© Elsevier, from Component level strategies
for exploiting the lifespan of steel in products,
Resources Conservation and Recycling, 84 24-32.
0 12.5 25 37.5 50 62.5
Expected life span (years)
46 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
achievements in defining world standards for energy
and environmental performance of primary production.
As a result, the emissions intensity of the best European
plants may be comparable with that of the best plants
in China, with the Europeans out-performing on other
environmental indicators. However, with low profitability,
there is little chance of raising the capital to extend
these developments much further – energy and emissions
performance is already approaching limits, and the
problem of global over-capacity remains.
Steel is a fantastic material. It is quite literally the
backbone of every industrial economy. It will never
be replaced, as there’s nothing else available on the
same scale – humanity is utterly dependent on it. But
the European steel industry will not be sustained if its
owners continue to believe that volume growth in a
commodity market is an intelligent strategy and neither
is Europe going to innovate its way out of trouble
with new metallurgy. It’s no wonder that closures are
happening in the UK, and it won’t be a surprise if further
closures are seen in primary production in Europe. That
is the reality.
Confronting the issues
The real choice facing the steel industry is to continue
as it once was, complain to governments about energy
prices, dream of miracle new compositions… or wake
up! Wake up to the fact that massive growth is forecast
in the secondary steel market. Wake up to the fact that
if climate change targets are imposed on the industry,
secondary steel making must take over. The era of
growth in primary steel production from ore is over, but
we’re still completely dependent on steel, so why not
grasp the reality of what’s going to happen anyway?
There are four strategies open to European steelmakers,
and no one else is pursuing them yet, so the field is
open. Who’s going to take the opportunity?
Firstly, if future growth in steel demand is going
to be met by secondary production from scrap, then
we need to invest rapidly and with commitment in
every aspect of the EAF route. We need to continue
to optimise current electric technologies, look for
innovations in electric production, and capture
opportunities to use low-carbon electricity supplies if
they become available.
Secondly, steel makers have always marketed their
product as an intermediate commodity because the
final consumers don’t want their product. People want
cars, buildings and equipment, not coils of steel strip.
Around half of all steel strip made each year is scrapped
in manufacturing because no one wants a constant
width slice of steel strip. The steel industry can integrate
downstream and become a producer of components.
By internalising the processes of blanking and forming,
the steel industry could optimise the value of its own
production and minimise waste. By getting closer to the
real customers, not the distributors and stockists who
handle their product today, steel makers could serve
customer needs by doing it themselves.
Thirdly, the steel industry has, for centuries,
attempted to integrate upstream to the mines. But
mining and primary steel-making have little, if any,
further growth, so why not integrate upstream into the
scrap market instead? The UK typically generates around
10Mt of steel scrap, of which around 9Mt is collected,
with two thirds exported at minimum value. If the steel
industry took control of this resource stream, it could
transform its value. For decades, metallurgists have
awarded each other medals and prizes based on their
invention of new compositions and processes, requiring
ever more refined inputs and more precise control of
increasingly complex thermo-mechanical processes.
But what about the scrap stream? Who has won a prize
for scrap management? For composition identification,
sorting, refining? Who is overcoming the hot shortness
of copper concentration, who is organising the
feedstock to the EAF with scientific precision? Where
are the innovations in the electro-chemistry of the
scrap melt? Which steel company has given the same
commercial priority to sourcing steel scrap as they do to
sourcing iron ore?
Fourthly, the whole business of steel is based on a
pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap approach. No wonder that
doesn’t work when there’s an excess supply. But that’s
not what steel is to its end users – it’s vital. The steel
industry is currently selling its product at around £300/t,
or lower, yet commercial buildings sell for around £5–
10,000/t and cars at £10–20,000/t or more. The business
model of the steel industry could be quite different.
If steel is so valuable to society, why aren’t the steel
producers keeping it on their own balance sheets and
renting it out? On average, commercial multi-storey steel
framed buildings in the UK are built with around twice
the mass steel required by the safety standards of the
Eurocodes. Why? Because it’s so cheap, that economic
rationale requires that fabricators and contractors
minimise labour costs by adding more steel wherever
it can save labour. We could optimise our designs, with
the right steel section at each location in the building
to avoid wasting valuable steel, but not with today’s
business model. The steel industry could be producing
kits of parts to make optimised, efficient buildings
designed for flexibility, adaptation, deconstruction and
re-use. How difficult would it be for the bosses of the
steel industry to talk to a few fabricators and component
manufacturers and develop new partnerships?
Primary steel producers in Europe are in an extremely
difficult position, and it’s going to get worse. Yet society
depends on steel. We should infuse knowledge into its
applications, rather than selling it off as an intermediate
product as cheaply as possible. This can work in Europe.
If we shift to secondary production from scrap, add
knowledge to steel, move on from trading it as an
undifferentiated commodity, and recognise and value
it for the irreplaceable wonder that it is, we could
transform the European steel industry from a casualty
needing state aid to a vibrant beacon of knowledge-rich
value ready for a low carbon future.
But what about
Who has won a
prize for scrap
is Professor of
the Environment at
the University of
Cambridge, author of
with both eyes open
and, in 2015, was made
an Honorary Fellow
of the Institute of
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Rhiannon garth Jones talks to Mike Battersby, MIMMM,
about his career and ideas on how to reduce energy
use in the mining industry.
TEll mE AboUT YoUR bAcKgRoUNd iN
I have a family background in the minerals industry.
I was born on the Zambian copper belt where my
father was a mining engineer and my mother a mine
nurse. During my early childhood, we moved to south
Wales when my father took a job with Thyssen GB.
He did a lot of work with the UK Coal Board and then
in Cornwall, with the re-emergence of the tin mining
industry in the 1970s. With this background, it seemed
natural that both my elder brother and I would go into
the mining industry. We joined Cardiff University’s
Mineral Exploitation department (MINEX) and emerged
with degrees in mineral processing. I then followed
an interesting career path that took me around the
world, first emigrating to work on the South African
gold mines with Anglo American and then diamond
mining in Angola with De Beers. After a period of
time working with Billiton in Australia, I made the
jump from the operational side of mineral processing
to the equipment technology field. This change led
me to Germany, where I met flotation expert and
inventor Dr Rainer Imhof. We had many ideas for new
technology and development in the minerals industry
that we thought would work. I therefore returned to
Wales and, 18 years ago, set up Maelgwyn Mineral
Services (MMS) to try to commercialise those ideas by
combining my operational experience with Dr Imhof’s
WhAT WoUld YoU sAY hAs bEEN YoUR
cAREER highlighT so FAR?
I’ve experienced working life on the mine operator side
in remote locations and also the supplier side, so there
are quite different highlights. Certainly, my time working
on the diamond mines in Angola in the early part of my
career was an experience I will never forget. The country
at that time was in the middle of the civil war. It was an
extremely demanding job trying to keep the diamond
recovery plants working with limited resources, knowing
the conflict was going on around us. Luckily, I didn’t
have any major personal safety issues. It was a time of
excitement for me in a beautiful and interesting country
and it resulted in many lifelong friendships forged under
those harsh working conditions.
My personal highlight must be the recognition MMS
has had for the development and success of one of our
flagship products – the Imhoflot G-Cell. We had an idea
of how to improve froth flotation, which is by far the
most common unit process in the minerals processing
industry. We were awarded a SmartWales grant from the
Welsh Assembly government to develop the concept,
which allowed for the G-Cell to be patented and
prototypes developed. It is now an accepted mainstream
technology with many flotation plants installed around
the world and sales continuing to increase.
WhAT is ThE biggEsT chANgE YoU hAvE
sEEN iN ThE iNdUsTRY dURiNg YoUR cAREER?
I would say, and quite rightly, our industry’s
acknowledgement of sustainable development and social
and environmental responsibility. As a young process
engineer working on a mine site, I always thought it was
a natural thing not to do anything that might harm the
environment. Certainly, my colleagues – geologists and
mining engineers – as individuals were probably more
aware of such matters than the general population.
However, in those days, there was little or no corporate
guidance from above, whose focus was perhaps more
on profitability and other such matters. Nowadays,
companies are in no doubt that you cannot operate in
any manner unless you pay attention and prioritise your
social and environmental responsibilities.
It appears far
easier for a
CEO to reduce
the staff to
48 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
What will be the most significant
challenges to face the industry over
the next decade?
Without doubt it will be the dearth of experienced
technical personnel in the industry. A lack of desire by
companies to invest in R&D to take the industry forward
will result in very challenging times. I’ve been lucky in
my career to have maintained gainful employment in
the industry through the many cycles of boom and bust
we have been through. But many of my peers through
the years have not been so lucky and the vast majority
were lost to the industry. It appears far easier for a
CEO to reduce staff numbers to increase profitability
rather than investing in the staff to reduce costs and
improve productivity and performance. As part of my
job, I get to visit many operations around the world and,
where possible, I ask to have a look around the process
plant. This is not always easy – with the requirement
these days for hours of health and safety inductions
before you step foot in the plant. Time and time again
I see poor operating practices that could result in huge
savings, if rectified. I’m normally accompanied on
these walkarounds by relatively junior or inexperienced
metallurgists and, when I question the operating practice,
the usual response is, ‘That’s the way we’ve always
operated’. We’ve lost the experience from the industry
and, in the present downturn, we are not getting enough
young people entering the industry via the universities
because they can see no job at the end of it.
What drove your interest in energy
I moved to Germany in the early 1990s to work for KHD
Humbolt Wedag, an equipment company who had a
licence for the relatively new comminution technology
of High Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGR). HPGRs had been
invented and patented by Professor Schonert about
10 years previously and had received early and wide
acceptance in the cement industry, where it yielded large
energy savings in grinding. By then, there were hundreds
of HPGRs installed around the world in cement plants
but none in minerals applications. I was given the job to
try and introduce them to the minerals industry, which
was a tough ask. While all the R&D work indicated that
energy savings of about 30–40% could be realised in
most HPGR circuits over a conventional tumbling mill
type circuit, the higher capex and the unknown nature
and associated perceived risks of new technology resulted
in mining companies being unwilling to embrace this
new technology. Eventually, this hurdle was overcome
by the HPGR's use in some niche areas such as diamond
liberation, where the HPGR is thought not to break large
diamonds, and then the grinding of iron ore pellet feed
where it gives a preferable size distribution – two areas
not really related to energy saving, which should have
been the driving force for their use. Hard rock mineral
applications started to trial units because, with lower
metal prices and increasing power costs, these operations
would not be making profits without the technology.
I realised that, in the mining industry, having the
most energy efficient and best performing technology
did not necessarily count because it is a capital
intensive, risk-averse business. Also, at the time, I was
working with pre-concentration technologies like froth
flotation and various sorting technologies, where the
idea is to reject waste early in the process to limit the
mass of material you needed to grind further to liberate
the economic minerals. Again, this was an energy saving
concept in the mining environment.
My experience led to my joining the Coalition
for Eco Efficient Comminution (CEEC), which was
founded a few years ago in Australia by some likeminded
industry leaders who did not understand
why our industry, time and time again, overlooked
new technology and known improvements in existing
processes to install and operate high energy usage
systems. They believed education and knowledge
transfer to the relevant engineers was missing. So,
CEEC was formed as a non-profit organisation to try
and rectify this situation. It is unique in our industry as
not being an advocate or representing any particular
vested interest group. The mission at CEEC is simple
– to raise awareness of research findings, alternative
comminution strategies and installed outcomes,
accelerate information, knowledge and technology
transfer with the objective of lower processing costs
and raising shareholder value as a result of improved
What more can be done to reduce
energy use in the industry?
One of the exciting projects CEEC is currently
undertaking is the Energy Efficiency Curve Programme.
Essentially, with the help of comminution experts
and data provided by actual operations, the aim is to
benchmark all the comminution plants in the world.
To generate these curves, operators measure the
energy intensity of their operations and contribute
anonymously to the database on which the tool is
based. This allows comparison of comminution energy
consumption of your site against the industry and across
different mine sites. The applications of this are many –
the curves can be used to map the position of the mine
as production progresses with year on year analysis.
Operational efficiency improvements can be mapped
on the curves to visually assess the magnitude of energy
reductions achievable through various strategies. The
efficiency with which various comminution devices
achieve size reduction can be mapped down a circuit
to identify opportunities for improvement and the
magnitude of achievable gains.
Already, the CEEC energy curve contains over 50%
of world copper production together with over 20%
of the world's gold, zinc and molybdenum production
and these percentages are increasing at a steady rate
as more operators provide data from their operations.
This really is a global industry wide endeavour that
can only be beneficial for all stakeholders and the
environment in general.
Mike Battersby is a
has been a member
of the Institute of
and Mining since 1985
and has more than 35
years' experience in the
minerals industry. In
1997, he co-founded
Services based in
Cardiff, Wales, where
he is currently the
Managing Director. He
is a UK based Director
of the Coalition for Eco
(CEEC) and also sits on
the Board of Directors
of Welsh Triathlon
Cymru and the British
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Late in 2015, Shell announced it was ceasing to drill in
offshore Alaska. Rhiannon Garth Jones considers the
future of exploration in the Arctic region.
For nearly 40 years, the Arctic has been considered
the next frontier of petroleum exploration.
Since it was first put forward as an option, it has
proved controversial, with protestors highlighting the
ecological fragility of the area and its rare wildlife.
Despite some high-profile cases, it remained a key area
for development, with the five Arctic nations working
to maximize their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) in
the area and, therefore, their access to the oil and gas,
which the USGS estimated in 2008 to be around 13%
of the world’s undiscovered oil and around 30% of its
In November, Materials World reported that Shell
had finally succeeded in drilling its first well in the
Chukchi Sea, off the Alaskan coast, and immediately
declared that it would ‘cease further exploration
activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future’,
citing a disappointing discovery, high costs and a
‘challenging and unpredictable federal environment’.
By that time, most other major firms had already
pulled out of their existing commitments in the area,
including Chevron, ExxonMobil and Statoil. Shell’s
withdrawal seemed to indicate that the challenges
of drilling in such an environment – the remoteness,
pressure from the environmental lobby, the
government regulations around wildlife and, crucially,
the technical difficulties of drilling in such extreme
conditions – were no longer worth it with oil prices
remaining resolutely low.
Just before the successful drilling of the Burger-J
well, Shell’s top executive for the Arctic, Ann Pickard,
said ‘Everybody’s watching to see if we’re going to fail
or succeed out there. If we fail for whatever reason
[…] I think the USA is another 25 years away from
developing Arctic resources.’
A frosty climate?
The future of drilling off the Alaskan coast certainly seems bleak, however big the
estimated prize. Already, since Shell’s announcement, President Obama has cancelled
the auctions of two future leases in the area and turned down requests for extensions.
The US Energy Information Administration’s 2015 Annual Energy Outlook projected
that the USA would eliminate energy imports between 2020–2030, acknowledging
‘continued growth in oil and natural gas production, growth in the use of renewables,
and the application of demand-side efficiencies’ as reasons to be positive. Unless the oil
price rises significantly (Shell has previously suggested it would have to reach at least
US$70 per barrel, and it recently fell below US$35), there seems to be little incentive.
Moreover, in the COP21 agreement in December 2015, the nations of the world
committed to curbing their carbon emissions to such a degree that a renewed attempt
to extract petroleum from the Arctic region would surely be even more controversial
than it has ever been.
However, not everyone has lost hope. In September, just before Shell’s
announcement, Hilcorp Alaska LLC, a subsidiary of Hilcorp Energy Co, based in Houston,
asked the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to assess its Liberty Project. Hilcorp
is proposing the construction of a 23-acre gravel island to serve as a platform for five
or more extraction wells that could tap oil six miles from shore in the Beaufort Sea.
Hilcorp purchased 50% of the Liberty Project in 2014 from BP Exploration Alaska,
which drilled at the site in 1997 and discovered an estimated 120 million barrels of
recoverable oil. Four other projects currently use offshore gravel islands in state waters,
including Endicott, the first continuously producing offshore oil field in the Arctic.
Hilcorp has stated that it would build the island using trucks carrying gravel by ice road
to a hole cut in sea ice, which would then deposit 76,000 cubic metres of gravel into
six metres of water. The work surface would be 38,000 square metres and would be
surrounded by a wall to provide a barrier to ice, waves and wildlife.
Norway’s the way
Hilcorp is not alone in keeping faith that the far north will yield profits. The Norwegian
Government announced in December 2015 that 26 oil companies had applied for drilling
licenses in the country's latest concession round, which included an unexplored Arctic
area at the border with Russia – the first licensing round since 1994 to cover a new
geographical area. Drilling could start in 2017, and the applications for licenses include
50 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Statoil. Both the Norwegian and Russian governments, whose
economies are heavily dependent on energy production, support exploration in the
area. ‘New acreage is a cornerstone for long-term activity,’ said Norway's Minister of
Petroleum and Energy, Tord Lien, after the announcement of the latest licenses. ‘It's
a good sign for future petroleum activity in the high north that a broad selection of
companies are competing for new acreage in the Barents Sea.’
Russia’s President Putin has repeatedly stated his support for Arctic drilling,
particularly the Prirazlomnaya project, which is currently the only oil-producing Russian
site in the Arctic. Although Russian activity is supported by the state and faces less
regulation than in Norway and the USA, international sanctions have prevented Russian
firms from obtaining the latest offshore drilling technology and could diminish their
access to financing. Additionally, while any oil spill is difficult to clean, the problem is
especially acute in such icy conditions. Outside the short summer season, it could be
impossible and might have a catastrophic impact on Norwegian and Russian fisheries,
as well as the wider consequences for the ecologically delicate area.
Clearly, the Arctic frontier has not yet been conquered, and significant challenges
remain to those companies who are still willing to try. However, Shell’s withdrawal from
the Chukchi Sea does not signal the end of drilling attempts in the far north – this
remains an area worth keeping an eye on, particularly if oil prices begin to rise.
Prirazlomnaya, the only
platform producing oil in
the Russian Arctic shelf.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
rises to challenge
Michael Schwartz examines how Western Australia is
a key driver behind Australia’s mining success and the
role it can play in responding to the challenges facing
the country as a whole.
In 1890, the augustly named Colliery Guardian
periodical (established 1858) informed its equally
august British mine-owner readership that a diamond
drill in Australia had reached a coal seam 50 yards thick.
It is fair to say that Australia had ‘arrived’ as a key coal
mining area. Coal, coupled with other minerals – not
to mention the vineyards and the sheep above ground
– has more than played its part in building ‘The Lucky
Country’, as Australians call their native land.
Australia is now the world's largest coal exporter and
second-largest gold producer. The US Geological Survey
noted estimates of 2% more gold produced in 2014 over
2013. This increased production kept Australia in second
position behind China, although the latter's increase
was large enough to propel it even further in front of
52 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Australia. Western Australia (WA) has always played a
significant role in the country’s mining industry, and it
seems likely it will continue to do so.
WA’s Department of Mines and Petroleum estimates
that Australia’s minerals and energy output for 2014
approached AUS$167bln, of which almost AUS$100bln
emanated from WA. This latter broke down in turn into
iron ore (nearly AUS$54bln), petroleum (AUS$24bln),
and gold (AUS$9bln), as well as several others.
The crucial part played by WA is obvious. It is
borne out by the percentages for individual minerals
contributed by WA to Australia as a whole – 71%
of total crude oil is from WA, natural gas 63%,
exploration 58%, and private new capital investment
in minerals and energy 60%.
The 'Super Pit', located
near Kalgoorlie in
Western Australia, is the
country's largest open
cut gold mine.
Is it all clear sailing?
One question currently dominating global mining
is China’s slowdown in industrial production and its
consequent decline in raw material imports.
Bank of China Hong Kong’s Economic Newsletter
noted in late September 2015, ‘Industrial production,
one of the indicators most clearly correlated with overall
economic activity, rose only 6.1% in August. Sub-7%
growth appears to have become the norm. So long as
severe over-capacity remains a dark cloud hanging over
the manufacturing sector, industrial production will be
very unlikely to stage a strong rebound.’
This comment is gentle compared with the view in
July 2015 of UK-based analyst BMI’s Australia Mining
Report. ‘Australia's mining sector is set to suffer the
painful spillover effects of a prolonged period of
weak mineral prices, in part resulting from a sharp
investment slowdown in China. Australia has been
among the biggest beneficiaries of the China-led
commodities boom over the past decade, attracting
huge amounts of investment into the minerals space.
‘Driven by China's voracious appetite for key
commodities such as coal and iron ore, the value of
Australia's mining industry had increased by more than
six-fold from US$24bln in 2003 to US$154bln in 2013.
As a result, this has seen the sector's share of GDP rising
from 4.5% to 10.2% over the same period.
‘However, the boom years in the mining industry are
over. With China's economy on course for a continued
slowdown over the coming years and mineral prices set
to remain low, Australia's mining sector will suffer the
painful spillover effects.’
In fact, BMI is almost merciless in its predictions
for Australia, stating, ‘We believe Australia will be the
biggest loser from the mineral imports shift in China.
The latter commands a prominent role in Australia's
exports of key commodities including coal and iron
ore. Already, the mining sector is feeling the crunch of
plummeting commodity prices as a string of miners scale
back their ambitions and slam the brakes on investment.
‘The rising tide of economic nationalism, declining
labour productivity and aggressive minimum wage
legislation will compound the challenges in the mining
industry, amplifying the downshift in Australia's
economy going forward. We expect the value of
Australia's mining sector to reach US$191.9bln by 2019,
growing at an annual average rate of 3.6% over our
forecast period. This contrasts with an average growth
rate of 21.5% per annum over the past decade.’
A more positive view
WA’s mining industry naturally disagrees. Materials
World asked one of the most senior representatives in
this major mining state for his opinions on WA mining
and its challenges and opportunities.
Richard Sellers, Director-General of Western
Australia’s Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP),
replied, ‘The DMP does not keep specific figures on
Chinese demand for minerals. However, the falls in
the prices of most commodities seen over the past 18
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
months have most likely been driven by a fall in Chinese
demand for minerals.
‘Even though demand appears to be falling, WA
producers are able to sell all minerals produced and
continue to enjoy strong market share for commodities,
particularly iron ore. Production volumes were up in
most major commodities (except nickel and gold) in
2014-15 compared to 2013-14. The main impact on the
WA mining sector is due to the falls in commodity prices.’
Sellers confirmed that the value of WA’s mineral and
petroleum industry was down 19% to US$99.5bln in
2014–15, mainly due to the fall in commodity prices.
Mining employment also decreased to an average of
105,922 persons during 2014–15, a fall of 3% from an
average of 108,975 in 2013–14, as companies strived to
reduce costs of production. Weaker commodity prices
also resulted in continued falls in mineral exploration
expenditure in 2014-15, which fell to US$1.58bln or
by 24% year-on-year, and in petroleum exploration
expenditure, which fell by 31% to US$2.1bln. Capital,
in turn, has been harder to raise.
Sellers identifies several areas where WA might make up
for the problems already outlined. ‘The recent signing of
Free Trade Agreements by the Australian Government
with China (ChAFTA), Japan (JAEPA), and Korea (KAFTA),
and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, can open
significant export opportunities for WA’s resources sector.
For example, under ChAFTA, 99.9% of China's imports
of resources, energy and manufacturing products from
Australia will enter duty-free.’ This includes the elimination
of some 15 different Chinese tariffs and duty-free entry
into Japan for Australian energy, coke, and metals.
WA itself provides financial relief for vulnerable
resource areas, including the temporary iron ore royalty
assistance programme, price relief at Port Hedland’s
Utah Point Bulk Handling Facility, and local government
rates relief. In addition, the Exploration Incentive
Scheme has been extended to 2017, by which time it will
have provided AUS$130 million of support.
The social issues
WA’s mining industry is very conscious of the need for
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – it is on its way
to operating the country’s first aboriginally-owned
iron ore mine.
A commercial agreement signed between Fortescue
Metals Group Ltd (FMG) and Australian Aboriginal
Mining Corporation Pty Ltd (AAMC) in Perth September
2015 means that FMG will provide AAMC with access
to its infrastructure – AAMC will consequently be able
to deliver up to 2Mt/y from its existing projects to
FMG's port or rail facilities for a five-year period.
The amount of ore that can be delivered to the
rail facilities will be determined by FMG taking into
account factors such as prevailing rail volume and
potential for surplus capacity. In addition, FMG may
either purchase ore directly from AAMC or act as
Fergus Campbell, executive director of AAMC,
spoke to Materials World about the many factors
that will combine to make the new venture a success.
He identified as essential, ‘a mature and supportive
Pilbara iron ore industry that understands that there
will be mining in the Pilbara for potentially centuries
to come and that it must continue to work hard at
improving outcomes for all of its stakeholders and,
most importantly, the traditional land owners groups
on which mining projects sit.’
In addition, there must be ‘a company like AAMC
that seeks to engage with Aboriginal businesses
because it understands that this improves its chances
of securing support from within the industry, access
to infrastructure and commercial success.’ This, in
turn, must be supported by ‘infrastructure-owning
companies that support the long-term advancement
of Aboriginal stakeholders and community groups.’
Australia faces severe challenges from China’s
industrial slow-down. However, the country remains
dominant in many fields, such as gold, while free-trade
agreements can help compensate for losses in China
and provide benefits to its mining industry as a whole.
The ‘Super Pit’ gold
mine, near Kalgoorlie,
54 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Khai Trung Le speaks to Lee Cobb, Managing
Director of Struers, manufacturer of metallographic
surface preparation equipment, on the UK’s future in
automation in preparation and manufacturing.
longer has as
and we’ve had
allow any user to
A’ and press go.
Can you tell me about your
I have a PhD from the University of Leeds, and worked
closely with Professor Derek Fray at the time. This
was mostly focused on electrochemistry and the use
of sensors in areas such as hydrogen and aluminium.
I joined Struers in 1998 to help with their materials
preparation and accounts in the north of England,
and was appointed Managing Director in 2004. The
company was based in Glasgow when I first started,
moved back to our original premises in the Midlands
in 2006 and, in 2010, moved to our current site in the
Advanced Manufacturing Park, Sheffield. The driving
forces behind Struers is innovation and the introduction
of new products, and that is why I’ve stayed for so
long - it sounds clichéd and corny but we see different
challenges every day, which is where the interest is.
What do you expect for the future
of automation in UK manufacturing?
The current trend is essentially, whether we like it or
not, more deskilling in the workforce. We see there is
a gradual decline in metallurgists being turned out at
universities. When I was going through the university
system, we had metallurgy courses in numerous
universities around the UK. That’s now shrunk down to
one or two, which is a crying shame. Where else do you
get these guys? We are still seeing materials scientists
emerge with degrees in the workforce but, of course,
where Rolls-Royce might have a department with
several metallurgists and trained metallographers, that’s
few and far between. Nowadays, metallurgists are very
sought after, able to move in to commanding positions
within aerospace and automotive industries.
The current trend for students seems to be
occupations like marketing. But the industry still
needs metallurgists. Although deskilling is good from
Struers’ perspective because the sample preparation
requirements remain the same – we just have to make
sure our machines are capable of doing these things
automatically – these industries are still screaming
out for more qualified people, and we try to actively
encourage people to move in this direction. The wider
industry needs to make sure we don’t lose sight of the
fact that we still need people to look at a structure with
the skillset needed to read it and understand the science.
Has the technology around
automation changed in recent years?
Around 20-odd years ago, tests had to be done and
if the guy in the lab doing the metallography wasn’t
available, everybody else would get a different result
based on what colour socks they were wearing!
Is that conducive to reading structures properly?
What Struers is trying to do is to vanish the black
art of metallography. It’s a good thing that we can
provide reproducibility through firm foundations in
methodology. The general industry no longer has as
many qualified metallurgists to facilitate materials
preparation, and we’ve had to produce machines that
allow any user to select ‘method A’ and press go.
The phase of machines replacing men is something
we’ve already gone through. What we tend to see now
are the secondary and tertiary suppliers getting on
board. For example, automotive manufacturers are often
being asked to do their testing in-house. So you need
to produce metallographic reports on the suitability of
fasteners for BMW, and that’s where you start to see
talk of consistency with their available staff. There are
the high-volume guys who use automation because it
gives them the capacity, and the lower-volume guys
who look at automation because they have been asked
to self-certify on the quality of components, don’t have
the skillset in-house, and need to ensure they can do it.
What Struers tries to do is give them systems with
flexibility and modularity – WeldingExpert is a system
by which you could read a polished specimen and
make weld measurements and analysis, and we are just
about to announce StructureExpert, effectively a box
you place your polished specimen on top of, and it will
give you a grain size within minutes without you going
through microscopy and grain structure measurement.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
ARe THeRe ANY INdUSTRIeS THAT ARe NOT USING
AUTOmATION TO THeIR AdVANTAGe, OR ARe NOT SUITAbLe
TO dO SO?
Every industry in materials preparation is potentially a user of
automation, but you might want to think carefully about where you
use it and where you don’t. If you’re getting into high-end R&D –
engineered steels, for example – I think there is still a requirement for
intervention from the user. You can provide methods for any material
and some level of automation to deal with that, but when you’re talking
about investigating novel materials then, of course, that’s a high
academic field and still requires a high skillset. However, there are no
real barriers to automating preparation on any industrial site in the UK.
If people want consistency, automation is the way to provide that.
Next month’s Spotlight is on injection
National Instruments, based in the UK, has released the IC-3173
Industrial Controller, one of a family of controllers released to meet
the requirements of advanced Internet of Things applications. The IC-
3173 includes a 2.20 GHz Intel Core i7 dual-core processor, 8GB DDR3
RAM and 4GB memory in a solid-state design, and is designed to pair
with EtherCAT motion drives and USB3 Vision cameras among other
A new range of variable-speed drives has been released at Schneider
Electric Ltd, based in London, UK, with two models revealed at the SPS
IPC Drives exhibition in Germany. The Altivar 320 and 340 are designed
to operate in harsh environments and will support open-loop motor
control with torque sensitive operation at low speeds, and closed-loop
motor control for applications requiring precision positioning. The 320 is
currently available, while the high-performance 340 will be released in
ABB Robotics has announced IRB 8700, the largest robot the company
has made. Features include a reach of 3.5m with payloads up to 1,000kg,
increased reliability and lower maintenance costs through simplified
design and parts configuration – using only one motor and gear in each
axis, against the traditional two – and claims of as much as 25% faster
speeds compared with other robots in its size class.
56 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
Here is your monthly listing of events
and conference previews.
Events highlighted red have been
organised by IOM3 or its subsidiary, IOM
Communications Ltd, and count towards
your professional development hours.
Those highlighted blue are co-sponsored
or supported by IOM3 and members may
be entitled to a discount on bookings.
Please check the relevant websites.
Organised by IOM3
Co-sponsored/supported by IOM3
Materials World team
attending the event
Live tweets from
Visitors to this event will get an opportunity to attend a
series of talks by some of the most renowned names in
architecture, housing and building industries. This year’s
material theme is wood and the show will highlight the
latest innovations in this sustainable building material.
Polymers in Photovoltaics 2016
Designed for companies involved in the photovoltaic
manufacturing industry, this conference covers themes
• solar power and conversion efficiency
• polymer materials
• future technology for power generation
Future of Surfactants Summit 2016
The summit will focus on the dynamics of the growing
surfactants industry and its future growth. From growing
commodity surfactants to new emerging specialities, the
conference will address the entire value chain. Discussion
• impact of oil price volatility
• market challenges and opportunities
• emerging specialties
The Packaging Conference
LAS VEGAS, USA
Discussion will focus on the latest developments in
the packaging industry for those in the supply chain.
Attendees range from retailers and brand owners to resin
suppliers, technology providers, equipment manufacturers
and converters. The event will give delegates the
opportunity to network with other industry professionals.
Compic Middle East 2016
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The conference will focus on the use of fibre-reinforced
composites in construction, and will allow delegates to
explore and discuss current and future innovations and
trends in the industry.
The conference will focus on various simulation
techniques and their applications in steel research and
recent advances in thermo-mechanical processing. It will
provide an opportunity for scientists and technologists
from research and academic institutes, and manufacturers
to share their experience and find new directions in
The show is aimed at packaging professionals, featuring
the latest suppliers and innovators in the industry. The
two-day event has a programme of seminars to help
packaging professionals deal with the challenges that they
face in the workplace.
EcoBio 2016: Challenges in Building
a Sustainable Biobased Economy
ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
This event will highlight the latest research and
innovation towards developing industrially viable, safe
and ecologically friendly biobased solutions to build a
sustainable society. Topics will include:
• industrial biotechnology
• environmental biotechnology
• sustainability and biobased economy
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
The theme is New Frontiers and Innovations in
Biomaterials. The event will feature keynote presentations,
talks, poster presentations and exhibitions. Topics include
biomaterials for biological engineering, biomaterials in
delivery systems, surfaces and interfaces and more.
Advances in Camouflage Science
The conference will address the following three themes:
• materials science and technology for camouflage
• camouflage engineering and systems
• holistic camouflage including deception
European Food and Beverage Plastic
This event will bring together brand owners, retailers,
sustainability experts, packaging converters and
manufacturers, plastic collectors and reclaimers from
across the globe. The day’s programme will offer a series
of presentations, sessions and Q&As to discuss the sector
and the plans for the future.
Sustainable Functional Materials 2016
This conference brings together scientists and engineers
committed to developing new materials and devices
for renewable energy. Topics include thermoelectrics,
solar technology, fuel cells, Li-ion batteries and the
replacement of rare earths and toxic elements in
functional materials and devices.
Sustainability in the Rubber Sector
An afternoon of technical discussion by IOM3 Rubber in
Engineering Group. Topics to be covered include:
• sustainability reporting
• use of recycled materials in rubber goods
• experience from the tyre industry
• different definitions and meanings of ‘sustainability’
Contact email@example.com for more information.
IX International Brown Coal Mining
This year’s theme is Brown Coal – Opportunities and
Threats. The subjects of the meeting will include some of
• brown coal reserves as a guarantee of energy safety
• sustaining brown coal production at the current level
and its prospective increase
• overcoming threats emerging in the mining industry
• the impact of opencast mining on the environment
Innovative Approaches to Bulk Metal
This conference will examine the potential for the
manufacturing of finished and semi-finished products
that are obtained from traditional bulk metal forming
processes including rolling and forging. The seminar is
aimed at both academic and industrial delegates with an
interest in expanding their knowledge and learning the
Sustainable Nuclear Energy Conference
The conference will consider current and future reactor
systems, advanced fuel cycles and the challenges of
decommissioning and waste management. It will provide
an opportunity for delegates to debate topics and help
to build a sustainable energy future.
Electronic Materials and Processes for
Spacecraft – EMPS-7
This meeting will cover new developments in electronic
materials and processes related to spacecraft technologies
and similar hi-res applications. The meeting is organised
and hosted by the University of Portsmouth and will
bring together delegates from the space industries, the
European Space Agency and academia.
PaintExpo – Efficiently Fulfilling Stricter
Requirements for Coatings
Visitors will hear about all aspects of industrial coating
technologies in areas such as liquid painting and powder
coating. Exhibitors from industries including:
• systems and equipment for liquid painting
• powder coating
• automation and conveyor technology
• drying and curing
58 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
24–25 5th Ceramic Leadership Summit
The event held in conjunction with the second Ceramics
Expo is a meeting designed for ceramics and glass
industry executives. It will explore where business and
manufacturing meets strategy, along with opportunities,
emerging technologies, and issues that challenge the
ceramics and glass materials community.
International Conference on Metallurgical
Coatings and Thin Films
SAN DIEGO, USA
This five-day event will focus on thin-film deposition,
characterisation, and advanced surface engineering. It will
bring together scientists, engineers and technologists from
academia, government laboratories and industry to discuss
the latest developments and approaches.
This annual exhibition draws attendance from decisionmakers
within ceramic manufacturing and industries
using ceramic materials and components, including
transportation, automotive, aerospace, medical,
electronics, military and environmental technology.
5 th Annual JEC Americas Composites
Show and Conference
The focus at this year’s event is on composites
manufacturing and the end-user’s needs. It will highlight
the importance of innovation in producing composite
parts. In addition, JEC Academy with Georgia Tech will
host the education and skills village.
International Conference on Railway
On the theme of Enhancing Railway Operations, the event
will include a mix of keynote speeches, technical sessions
and site visits. It aims to provide a forum for sharing
knowledge and experience, promoting collaboration
among practitioners, and reporting applications of new
technologies in railway engineering.
Low Rupture Ductility of Materials
International Conference on Smart Grid
Inspired Future Technologies
This conference will address smart grid issues related
to data sensing, data processing and communications,
concrete smart grid-inspired data technologies, smart
grid system architecture, energy efficiency, service
engineering and algorithm design. The aim is to bring
together scientists, engineers, researchers, and students
from academia and industry to highlight and address the
challenges arising from smart grid, and to create a forum
for both academia and industry to publish key results.
This workshop aims to address issues facing the ductility
industry, causes and modelling of ductility for lifting
purposes and will answer questions relating to how
much ductility we need. The event is for engineers,
scientists and technical staff from industry, laboratories
and research institutes with an interest in the numerous
aspects of low ductility.
PDM Plastics 2016
This year’s show will focus on a range of elements in
the plastics industry with a particular focus on design,
moulding, packaging, recycling and composites. The
event will combine with PRE and PPS alongside a new
composites element, as part of the show schedule.
NAFEMS UK Conference 2016
Covering all aspects of the engineering analysis,
modelling and simulation community. The purpose
is to bring together all those involved in analysis
and simulation from every industry to advance their
knowledge and improve technology.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
9 th International Concrete Conference
11 th European Conference on Coal
Research and its Applications
This annual event will bring together university and
industry researchers and those interested in the
application of the research. Papers describing applications
of research in coal characterisation, utilisation and
preparation are now invited. The closing date for abstract
submission is 29 January 2015.
ICANM 2016: International Conference
and Exhibition on Advanced and
The objective of the conference is to explore the
innovations and latest accomplishments in the areas
of advanced and nano materials. The conference will
also focus on the latest developments in processing
and will provide an opportunity to network with experts
in the field.
International Conference on Energy,
Environment and Economics (ICEEE 2016)
Focusing on energy, environment and economics of
energy systems and their applications. The conference
will provide a forum for both researchers and academics
from around the world to present original research
papers. The technical committee of the conference invites
papers from researchers and practitioners from academia
as well as industry.
The Brazilian Conference on Composite
This is the third of a series and intends to provide a
forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest
research and technology in the field of composite
materials. Topics include:
• processing and manufacturing technologies
• simulation in composites
• recycling and sustainability
• carbon and ceramic matrix composite
11–15 The 13th International Symposium on
SEVEN SPRINGS, PENNSYLVANIA
The purpose is to provide a forum for researchers,
producers, and users to present the most recent
technical information on a class of high-strength,
high-temperature superalloys. The Symposium aims
to highlight the collaborative development between
industry, government and academia to produce new
advances in superalloy technology.
Euradh 2016/Adhesion ‘16
The event aims to cover:
• adhesives for electronic applications
• bio-adhesion and biomedical adhesion
• innovative designs and applications
• nanotechnology as applied to adhesives
This year’s theme is Environment, Efficiency and
Economic Challenges for Concrete. The conference will
give the opportunity to learn about the latest materials
developments and to network and make contacts with
experts and practitioners from around the world.
5 th Aircraft Structural Design Conference
This event will address the challenges facing the designers
of the next generation of aircraft. A call for papers is open
for current research into the design and manufacture
of future civil and military air-vehicle structures, both
manned and uninhabited. The scope of the conference
covers both airframe and engines. The design and analysis
of structures constructed from CFRP and novel materials
is a major topic area for the conference.
60 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
MATERIAL OF THE MONTH
MATERIAL OF THE MONTH
It occurs in the extremely rare mineral moissanite,
and has been used in various applications from LEDS
and composite armour to automotive parts. This month,
Anna Ploszajski explores silicon carbide.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
MATERIAL OF THE MONTH
At the end of the 18 th Century, it was discovered
that diamond was an allotrope of carbon.
Chemists argued that it must be possible to
create diamonds from cheap sources of carbon if the
conditions of natural diamond formation in the Earth
could be mimicked in the laboratory. The following
decades saw many attempts, none of which succeeded
in synthesising diamond from carbon, although many
tried to claim success. The American Edward Goodrich
Acheson was one frustrated chemist, whose attempts
at synthetic diamond were under the direction of
Thomas Edison for use in his electric lightbulbs in the
1880s. In his research, Acheson heated a mixture of clay
(aluminium silicate), and powdered coke (carbon) in an
iron bowl with a carbon arc, and afterwards found shiny
hexagonal crystals attached to the carbon electrode.
This wasn’t diamond, but it was a compound, which he
named carborundum. Acheson would eventually patent
this method for producing powdered silicon carbide
(SiC), a compound of silicon and carbon, in 1893. It is
still the most popular processing route today.
The mineral form of silicon carbide is called
moissanite and gets its name from Dr Ferdinand Henry
Moissan, who first discovered it in the Canyon Diablo
Crater in Arizona in 1904, while studying rock samples
from the site of a meteorite impact. The next year
he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work
isolating fluorine from its compounds.
Silicon carbide is unusual because it was discovered
synthetically before its natural form was unearthed.
This is partly because, as minerals go, moissanite is
extremely rare, generally brought in on meteorites
from space, or found as inclusions in diamond or rocks,
such as kimberlite. Moissan’s discovery was disputed by
naysayers who claimed that the sample may have been
contaminated by synthetic silicon carbide used in saw
blades to prepare rock samples.
Right: Atlantis Space
Shuttle at the NASA
Kennedy Space Centre,
Right: Carbon fibrereinforced
carbide makes up the
components of the
Atlantis Space Shuttle.
These cutting-edge blades and tools were the first
application that Acheson found for his new shiny
black crystals, and he began to mass-produce them
in 1895. Sitting at an impressive 9–9.5 on the Mohs
hardness scale, silicon carbide proved to be a much
more powerful abrasive than those based on emery,
corundum and garnet that came before. Alongside
synthetic alumina, silicon carbide abrasives reigned
supreme until 1955, when Howard Tracy Hall at the
General Electric Company (GE) finally succeeded
in producing synthetic diamonds. More durable,
wear-resistant, efficient, and with a longer lifespan,
synthetic diamond-based abrasives and cutting tools
now dominate the high-end markets. GE went on to
earn a fortune from Hall’s invention, yet he was only
62 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
MATERIAL OF THE MONTH
rewarded with a US$10 savings bond in addition to his
salary. After GE, Hall became Professor of Chemistry
and Director of Research at Brigham Young University
before leaving academia to become a missionary.
To the naked eye, pure moissanite gems look
just like diamonds, and their very similar thermal
conductivity means that they are often mistaken for
one another. But, unlike diamonds, silicon carbide
crystals can be strongly birefringent, meaning the
crystals exhibit different refractive indices down
different axes. For this reason, moissanite jewels are
cut along the optic axis to mitigate these effects. To
identify counterfit diamonds, jewellers have developed
special testing devices that exploit the difference in
electrical conductivity between the two otherwise
extremely similar stones.
Whereas, SiC powder production involves the
Acheson resistance furnace, these synthetic moissanite
gems are produced by the Lely Process. This method
produces large single crystals by sublimating silicon
carbide powder to form a high-temperature species
called silicon dicarbide (SiC 2
) and disilicon carbide
C). This is done under argon at 2,500°C, and singe
crystals are deposited on a slightly colder substrate.
These crystals can then be cut and shaped into
All petrol-heads will certainly have heard of ceramic
break pads. These are, in fact, based on silicon carbide.
A carbon-fibre reinforced graphite composite disc
has silicon infiltrated into it, which reacts with the
graphite matrix to form carbon-fibre reinforced
silicon carbide. This has the benefits of increasing the
hardness, wear resistance and thermal management of
the discs for more efficient and higher performance,
thanks to the material’s high thermal conductivity,
durability, and resistance to corrosive environments
compared to conventional iron-based discs.
In February 2015, I was lucky enough to take a work
trip to some labs based at the NASA Kennedy Space
Centre in Florida. One weekend I took a look round
the Visitor Complex and my favourite exhibit was
the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The entire spacecraft has
been mounted inside an enormous indoor exhibition
and visitors can observe it from almost every angle.
What struck me most were the impressive scorch
marks along the black-tiled bottom edge of Atlantis,
testament to the heat of re-entry into the Earth’s
atmosphere, which reached temperatures of 1,648°C.
That the crew survived re-entry is thanks to silicon
carbide. The structural components of the hottest
parts of the spacecraft, the nose cap and leading edges
of the wings, were made from reinforced carboncarbon
composite impregnated with silicon to form a
silicon carbide coating to protect the carbon substrate
from oxidation at such elevated temperatures, and
bring the crew safely back to Earth.
The astronomical applications of silicon carbide
didn’t stop with the ending of the Space Shuttle
Programme. The Herschel Space Observatory was
launched in 2009 by the European Space Agency. Its
aim was to monitor the coldest and dustiest corners
of space and observe the formation of new stars and
galaxies to trace the path where potentially life-giving
molecules, such as water might form. In order to do
this, it had to travel 1,500,000km from Earth, and
look out into space with an eye capable of seeing far
infrared and submillimetre light. This eye was a mirror
made from a single piece of silicon carbide, polished to
a roughness of less than 30 millionths of a millimetre
and then coated in nickel-chromium and highly
reflective aluminium. Lighter weight than metal or
glass, silicon carbide was used due to its extremely low
thermal expansion coefficient, high hardness, rigidity
and thermal conductivity. This mirror, at 3.5m across,
is the largest silicon carbide structure ever made, and
the largest single-component telescope reflector ever
sent into space. Thanks to Herschel, we know a lot
more about the formation of stars and the transport
of water by comets, which may represent the origin of
water on Earth. Sadly, the Observatory’s lifetime was
limited by the amount of coolant onboard, which the
instruments required to function, and the Observatory
closed in 2013 .
Silicon carbide is a semiconductor and, like silicon,
can be doped with trace amounts of other elements to
form diodes, junctions and transistors. Semiconducting
silicon carbide first found application as a detector
in early radios at the beginning of the 20 th Century.
In 1907, one of radio’s early pioneers, Captain Henry
Joseph Round, observed light coming from a diode that
he was investigating for radio detectors. This diode was
made from silicon carbide, and his work led to the light
emitting diode (LED).
Although silicon carbide was experimented with
to make early LEDs, it was soon replaced by gallium
nitride (GaN), which gave much brighter light
thanks to its direct bandgap, compared to SiC’s less
efficient indirect bandgap. However, silicon carbide
is still a popular substrate for making GaN-based
devices, and it also comes out top in applications
that require performance in high temperatures, harsh
environments, high voltage and high power. A silicon
carbide-based LED can withstand temperatures over
600°C, compared to silicon’s limit of 150°C.
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Dr Tom Davies
It is with a great sense of loss, but also with a celebration of his lifetime
achievements that I report the death of Dr Tom Davies. Tom retired as Reader at
the School of Materials, University of Manchester (UMIST), UK, in the 1990s after
around 30 years of meritorious service. For several years he served as Editorial Board
Chairman for the journal Powder Metallurgy published by IOM3 and gave generously
of his talent and time for this purpose and other things. I had the privilege of being
one of his former PhD students (he supervised more than 30 PhDs to completion) and
also served as his post-doctoral researcher.
The passing away of Dr Davies was communicated to his former colleagues at the
University of Manchester, many of whom are now retired, by a former colleague of
his and a current senior academic in the school of materials, Professor Robert Young,
FRS. Dr Davies leaves behind his spouse, Betti Davies, children Wyre and Sian, and
Professor Abraham Ogwu FIMMM FinstP
64 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
i N s t i t U t e N e w s
c o M P i l e D B y v i K i t a y l o R
tHe PolyMeR society
Following the official opening of the
new Institute offices at 297 Euston
Road in London, a number of new
benefits are available to members at
this site. With the building’s proximity
to main line railway stations in central
London, the enlarged Members’ Business
Centre is a few minutes walk from
London Euston, Kings Cross, St Pancras
International, Paddington and Warren
Street tube stations.
The Members’ Business Centre,
on the fourth floor of the building,
is equipped for small meetings with
IT equipment wireless and telephone
connections. Members can use the
facilities on a drop-in or pre booked
basis. Open from 08.00–19.00, you
can take advantage of this space as a
stopping off point between meetings
or to use for business meetings and
presentations at members’ rates for
groups of 4–10. For further details,
contact reception on 0207 451 7300 or
The Polymer Society’s interests cover all technical, educational and professional considerations
relating to polymers and materials where the polymer content is significant. These interests
encompass all our members working in polymer manufacture, processing, design, applications,
end-use and end of life.
The Society has both external and internal roles within the Institute:
• Externally, we are the polymer face of the Institute, linking with industry, trade associations,
the Government, UK innovation and learning infrastructure, media and conference
organisations and other relevant national and international bodies to encourage and support
membership of the Institute.
• Internally, we promote the subject of polymers and provide the focus within the Institute for
the polymer community by advising the Institute and dealing with policy issues on matters
concerning the polymer sector.
Activities are focused on meetings and conferences generated through our technical committees
– Rubber in Engineering, PVC and Polymer Processing and Engineering. More details of their
programmes are available on our microsite www.polymersociety.org.uk. We strive to promote
professional activities relevant to the career development and job needs of all members and encourage
younger members to take an active role in their industry. The society is currently taking an active
interest in the efforts being made to improve education provision relating to plastics and rubbers.
Details of the various Institute awards relevant to the polymer discipline can be found at
www.iom3.org/iom3-awards and members are encouraged to make nominations. One of the most
prestigious awards is the Prince Philip Award for the use of polymers in the service of mankind,
which was won by Avon Rubber in 2015. The nominations for 2016 are now in and we look
forward to hearing who has won the prestigious award.
The society is proud to continue to be associated with the long standing journal Plastics, Rubber
and Composites: Macromolecular Engineering, which provides an international forum for the
publication of original, peer reviewed research on the macromolecular engineering of polymeric
and related materials and polymer matrix composites. All members have free access to this journal,
which can be accessed via the Polymer Society microsite.
The society participates in the organising committee of the annual Design Innovation In
Plastics (DIP) award with continuing IOM3 sponsorship. DIP is co-organised by IOM3 and the
Worshipful Company of Horners with the focus of the award being the encouragement of plastics
design innovation and best practice in future product designers. Further details can be found at
The society also maintains an interface with the Government’s Technology Strategy Board
through the Materials KTN.
If you are not already on our mailing list but would like to be, please modify your online Member
Profile accordingly, by selecting the Polymer Society on your preferred technical community.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or issues that you would like to discuss.
This can be done via the society microsite.
Alan Wood / Chairman, Polymer Society Board
Call for papers deadline 31 January 2016
THE WORLD’S LEADING FORUM ON VINYL
25–27 APRIL 2017 | HILTON BRIGHTON METROPOLE HOTEL, UK
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
N e w s P R& o FN iol te
i c e s
WINNERS OF QUEEN’S
Edinburgh Napier University has won one of
the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and
Further Education, awarded for innovation in
timber construction and wood science.
The award recognises the global impact
of the team’s research into construction
innovations and reducing the carbon
footprint, and its influence on industry and
The university’s Centre for Timber
Engineering was created in 2003 and led to
four further research centres, which have
supported the timber industry, construction
companies and the forestry sector. The
research and support of new products is now
worth more than £65 million a year to the
UK timber and construction industry.
Key findings have been shared with other
universities in Europe and North America,
and the university’s experts have been in
demand as advisers to industry bodies and
organisations both in the UK and overseas.
Dan Ridley-Ellis FIMMM is Head of Centre
for Wood Science and Technology, one of the
research centres recognised by this award.
He said, ‘I am delighted that research into
wood has been recognised at this level, in a
competition that covers all academic fields.
I am privileged to have worked with a large
number of great researchers over the years,
with expertise from all aspects of growing,
processing and using wood. It has been a true,
cross-discipline, collective effort, which has
led to this prestigious award.’
Judges were impressed by a string of
research successes relating to timber offsite
construction, nanocellulose, sustainable
construction systems and architectural
design, as well as the role played by staff in
education programmes, public engagement
and developing industry standards.
Jessica MiDDleMiss, tHe New cHaiR
oF tHe woMeN iN MateRials (wiM)
GRoUP, talKs aBoUt HeR caReeR aND
HoPes FoR tHe wiM GRoUP iN 2016.
I started my studies as a Mechanical Engineer at
Imperial College London, but failed my first year.
Fluid dynamics was not my forte, but I had scored
close to 100% in the Materials module. Luckily for me, Dr Shaun Crofton, Imperial’s Senior Tutor
for Mechanical Engineering at that time, encouraged me to approach the Materials department.
The rest is history. I graduated from Imperial in 2007 with a 2:1 MEng in Materials Science
From Imperial, I joined Rolls-Royce as a graduate trainee. I spent 18 months working in various
areas of the business including a stint as a field support engineer for the BA fleet at Heathrow.
Following the graduate scheme, I worked for two and a half years in Rolls-Royce’s Repair
Technology team developing repair techniques for a variety of components including fan blades,
turbine blades and blisks.
In 2011, I joined Dyson and have since built up our UK-based materials function. My team
supports all materials activities from early concept research to reliability. We work with designers
to understand engineering requirements and select appropriate materials. We cover many
materials types including thermoplastics, elastomers, metals and paints. It’s a great mixture
between technical assessment and hands-on lab work. Even as team leader, I have the opportunity
to work in the lab from time to time.
I love the mix of expertise and people skills that Dyson requires. The results of our research
may cause a setback for a team’s project, but by sharing data you can ensure the design is
improved and a more appropriate material is used.
One of my proudest personal contributions to Dyson has been the technical specification of all
the materials for the Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum Cleaner. Packing so much technology into a
small space generated complex materials challenges.
I joined the IOM3 WIM committee in 2013, taking up the chair in 2015. I volunteered as I
have always been passionate about engineering as a career and want to show other women and
girls that it is a varied, fulfilling and engaging field. The lack of women entering STEM subjects is
nationally recognised and I hope WIM gives the women of IOM3 a voice in the wider debate.
Early WIM research indicated that female members want relatable, identifiable role-models,
alongside being able to share experiences and network with like-minded women. Our events
target this, highlighting the exciting careers of some of our female members and by providing
the opportunity to discuss some of the issues faced by women in STEM. Our event in June for
National Women in Engineering Day featured two personal accounts of the challenges of juggling
family life and gaining recognition in a technical career. It is sad to think that any women might
face discrimination in the workplace and I hope that WIM can help provide a support network for
IOM3 members who may want advice on how to cope with and tackle negative situations related
to their gender.
I want to stress that WIM events are not just for women. Men are actively encouraged to
attend and participate in our events to show their support for the careers of women and help
us inspire the next generation of women in STEM. We will be planning a London-based event in
early 2016 to show-off the new IOM3 London HQ and are looking forward to celebrating National
Women in Engineering Day on 23 June 2016. www.iom3.org/wim
66 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
s a s & a w a R D s
IRON AND STEEL SOCIETY
THRILLED BY STORIES
Benenden School in Kent launched its Materials Matter week in late
November with a presentation from the Institute’s Dr Diane Aston. The
week included guest lectures, careers advice, quizzes, displays, entertaining
experiments and a chance for pupils to see a range of materials used in a
variety of situations and applications.
Diane Aston, Training and Education Executive at IOM3, took the
girls through the materials cycle from extraction to processing and use,
introducing structure, properties and classes of materials. She passed
around materials samples for the pupils to hold, feel and visually examine.
Gasps of horror and disgust were heard when replacement eye lenses
and polymer arterial implants were presented. Replacement hips met
with a barrage of questions relating to lifespan, adhesives and implant
removal. Thermochromic materials were easily the hit of the day, with a
colour-changing kettle holding centre stage.
Pupils commented that they had enjoyed hearing snippets of
information that related to the real world - sports equipment,
smartphones and medicine were singled out as having particular
relevance as we use all those things.
Neville Crouch, Head of Product Design, Architecture and
Engineering at Benenden, said, ‘This type of presentation helps the
girls see the fundamental importance of materials, they can see the
link between different facets of science and engineering. It opens
their eyes to the opportunities available across STEM subjects where
the key link is the material’.
He also explained that hearing Diane using the terminology easily
and naturally encouraged familiarity with the correct use of terms, such
as polymer not plastic. However, he noted that such events cannot be a
stand-alone item, stating there is a need to build awareness all the time
continually exposing the pupils to science and engineering applications
Benenden is an all-boarding independent girls’ school and has the
freedom within the curriculum to arrange such immersion weeks, with
excellent facilities available to the pupils including injection moulding,
laser cutting and 3D printing machines. While all schools may not be able
to offer such fantastic equipment on site, the Institute’s Schools Affiliate
Scheme (SAS) is open to all and includes teacher notes/lesson plans and
resources as well as the opportunity for similar school visits.
For further information on the Schools Affiliate Scheme, visit
On Friday 13 November, the
third major IOM3 awards
evening for 2015 was held at
the Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield
with the presentation of
the Iron and Steel Society
Awards. This followed a
highly successful opening
day for the 2015–2016
Bessemer Master Class team
projects, which addressed a
number of topics associated
with New Manufacturing
Methods – Opportunities
for the Steel Industry. More
details on the Master Class
projects to follow in a later
issue of Materials World.
The awards presented were:
Professor John Beynon
Bessemer Gold Medal
Professor John Beynon,
University of Adelaide,
Hadfield Medal and Prize
Professor David Worsley,
Tom Colclough Medal and Prize Dr David Crowther, Tata Steel
Thomas Medal and Prize
Dr Andrew Howe, formerly
Grunfeld Memorial Award and Medal Dr David Armstrong,
University of Oxford
Dowding Medal and Prize
Dr Gregor Terlinde,
Otto Fuchs institute, Germany
Adrian Normanton Medal
Dr Young-Seok Lee (POSCO,
Korea), Professor Sungmo
Jung (POSTECH, Korea) and
Professor Dong-Joon Min
(Yonsei University, Korea)
Following the awards presentations, Professor John Beynon,
University of Adelaide, gave the 2016 Sir Henry Bessemer Lecture –
Mitigating a Grievous Mistake. An interview with Professor Beynon
featured in the December issue of Materials World. The lecture itself
will be published in Steel World during 2016. Award winners, Master
Class delegates and other guests rounded off the day by combining
the Bessemer Dinner with the SMEA (Sheffield Metallurgical and
Engineering Association) Annual Dinner.
Thanks are due to our sponsors – Harsco Metals and Minerals,
Tata Steel and Primetals Technologies (who are also the Master Class
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
l o cNael w s o& c ine ot y t i ec ve es
n t s
LMS London Materials Society
CAMS Cambridge and Anglia Materials Society
ICTa L&HC ICTa London and Home Counties
LSEPS London and South England Packaging
South west and south Wales
CorIE Cornish Institute of Engineers
NDMS Newport and District Materials Society
WEMMA West of England Metals and
SWMA South Wales Materials Association
SWWPG South Wales and Western Polymer
EVMHS Ebbw Vale Metallurgical and Historical
BMetA Birmingham Metallurgical Association
MIMinE Midland Institute of Mining
ICTa NS ICTa North Staffordshire
MMS Manchester Metallurgical Society
SMMMI South Midlands Mining and Minerals
WestIMM Western Institute of Mining and
EMPkgS East Midlands Packaging Society
EMMS East Midlands Materials Society
LBMES Leeds and Bradford Materials Society
NEIMME North of England Institute of Mining
and Mechanical Engineers
LISI Lincolnshire Iron and Steel Institute
SMEA Sheffield Metallurgical and Engineering
ICTa WY ICTa West Yorkshire
CIE Cleveland Institution of Engineers
*Midland Institute of Mining Engineers
are listed in the Midlands but also apply to the
North west and north Wales
LBMES Leeds and Bradford Materials Society
MMS Manchester Metallurgical Society
NWPkgMS North West Packaging and
MPG Manchester Polymer Group
MSC Materials Society of Cumbria
Scotland and Ireland
MIS Mining Institute of Scotland
SAM Scottish Association for Metals
SPRA Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association
14 LMS Wood in construction and
engineering.18.30, Institute of Materials, Minerals
& Mining, London.
2 WSMS The Story of the Development of
New Generation of Ferritic Steels for Ultra-
Supercritical Efficiency Power Plants, speaker –
Ahmed Shibili, ETD Consulting.
10 LMS lecture on concrete, speaker – Wayne
Thomas, TWI. 18.30, Institute of Materials,
Minerals & Mining, London.
SOUTH WEST AND
13 NDMS Historical Metallurgy, speaker from the
Historical Metallurgy Society.
14 CorIE An Introduction to Falmouth Docks, A&P
Group and the cluster support team, speaker –
Shaun Herman, A&P. 19.00, Cornwall Campus,
University of Exeter.
21 WEMMA Calculation of Embedded Carbon
Content (in rail systems), speaker – Inga Doak,
Siemens. Siemens, Chippenham.
4 CorIE NGO’s and the Mining Industry, speaker
– Joseph Williams, Natural Resource Governance
Institute. Cornwall Campus, University of Exeter.
9 NDMS 3D Printing, speaker from Renishaw.
10 SWMA Space and Materials, speaker – Andrew
Lound. Swansea University.
18 EVMHS Industrial Landscapes, speaker – Frank
Olding, Aneurin Leisure Trust, Blaenau Gwent.
19.15, Ebbw Vale Rugby Football Club.
25 CorIE A New Coal Drift Mine in Yorkshire: The
story so far, speakers – Bill Birch & Toby White,
New Crofton Co-operative Colliery Project. 19.00,
Cornwall Campus, University of Exeter.
10 CorIE Aspects of Deep Geothermal Energy
Development in Cornwall, speaker – Tony Bennett.
19.00, Cornwall Campus, University of Exeter.
15 NDMS Lecture on Aerospace, speaker – Mark
Jolly. Time and venue tbc
16 SWMA Corrosion and Nanotechnology, speaker
– Mary Ryan. Cardiff University.
17 EVMHS Buildings That generate Their Own
Power: From Concept to Reality, speaker – Pail
Jones and Jo Morgan, Tata Steel. 19.15, The
Riverside Suite, Ebbw Vale Rugby Football Club,
Eugene Cross, Ebbw Vale. A free buffet will be laid
after the lecture
31 EVMHS Annual dinner. 19.00 for 19.30.
14 MIMinE International Mining Developments,
speaker – Kevin Sabin, Hargreaves Industrial
Services. 16.00, Kellingley and Mansfield Mines
20 EMMS lecture. Department of Materials,
21 SMMMI Annual Hopley Lecture joint meeting
with UK Minerals Engineering, Mining the Moon
and Asteroids, speaker – Professor Ian Crawford,
Birkbeck College. 19.00 for 19.30, Willesley Park
Golf Club, Ashby de la Zouch.
28 BMetA The Pen Museum, speaker – Larry
Hanks. 18.00 for 18.30, Metallurgy and Materials
Building, University of Birmingham.
TBC EMPkgS Patent Advice/Trademark/Copyright.
Hilton Hotel, East Midlands.
1 WestIMM Open-Pit Metalliferous Selective
Mining, speaker – Laurence Morris, Former COO,
Golden Queen Mining, California, USA. 19.00,
Keele Campus, Keele University.
11 BMetA Advances in Casting Theory and
Practice, speaker – John Campbell, Tech.Plus.
18.00 for 18.30, Metallurgy and Materials
Building, University of Birmingham.
11 MIMinE Don’t Dilute the Ore! Gold Mining and
Ore Control, speaker – Laurence Morris. 16.00,
Kellingley and Mansfield Mines Rescue Stations.
22 WestIMM, joint meeting with ICTa NS,
Signature Materials, speaker – Dr Bernie
Rickinson, Chief Executive, IOM3. 19.00, Keele
Campus, Keele University.
25 BMetA IOM3 Young Persons’ Lecture
Competition West Midlands heat. 18.00 for 18.30,
Metallurgy and Materials Building, University of
7 WestIMM A Geological & Law Enforcement
(Police) Search Strategy for Ground Burials
Associated with Homocide, Terrorism and
Organised crime, speaker – Dr Laurance Donelly,
Worley Parsons. 19.00, Keele Campus, Keele
10 BMetA The Cold Economy, speaker – Toby
Peters, University of Birmingham. 18.00 for 18.30,
Metallurgy and Materials Building, University of
10 MIMinE The Value of Asset Management
in the Mining Industry, speaker – Peter
Hetherington. 16.00, Kellingley and Mansfield
Mines Rescue Stations.
16 EMMS Composites Theme. Coates Building,
University of Nottingham.
TBC ICTa NS H&S in Clay Quarries, speaker – Steve
Smith, Chepstow Plant and H&S in the pottery
industry, speaker – Jon Lawrence, Wedgwood.
19.00, Keele University, Keele.
68 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
l o c a l s o c i e t y e v e N t s
5 CIE Subsea Technology, speaker – Martin Moon,
Subsea Innovations. 17.30 for 18.00, Centuria
Building, Teesside University.
11 LISI Inaugural Debate, How Can the UK Keep
the Lights On? 17.00 for 17.30, Tata Steel Long
Products Conference Centre, Scunthorpe.
21 NEIMME HSE With Mining and Geotech
Aspects, speaker – Donald Lamont. 17.30 18.00,
Neville Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne.
28 CIE Quiz night. Dormans Club, Cleveland.
2 CIE The Evolution of CCS-and What the Future
May Hold, speaker – James Watt, AMEC. 17.30 for
18.00, Centuria Building, Teesside University.
8 LISI Vulcan: The World’s Sole All-British Four-
Eengined Jet Aircraft Capable of Flight, speaker
– Kevin ‘Taff’ Stone, Vulcan Operating Company.
17.00 for 17.30, Tata Steel Long Products
Conference Centre, Scunthorpe.
9 SMEA Putting the Mission into UK Nuclear
Decommissioning, speaker – Professor Neil C
Hyatt, University of Sheffield. 17.30 for 18.00,
Holiday Inn, Sheffield.
17 ICTa Yorks Ceratec: Engineered Quality,
speaker – Bart Vanaasche, Ceratec. Hatfield Hall/
Normanton Golf Club, Wakefield.
18 NEIMME Innovations in Mining Technology,
speaker – Alan Auld. 17.30 for 18.00, Neville Hall,
Newcastle upon Tyne.
23 SMEA Advanced Sensors for Process Control,
speakers – Professor Tony Peyton, University of
Manchester and Professor Claire Davis, Warwick
University. 17.30 for 18.00, Holiday Inn, Sheffield.
8 SMEA Members’ Dinner and Ken Barraclough
Memorial Lecture, First Waltz: Development and
Deployment of Blue Danube, Britain’s Post-
War Atomic Bomb, speaker – Jonathan Aylen,
University of Manchester. 17.30 for 18.00, Holiday
Inn, Sheffield. Followed by the SMEA members’
dinner, for more information please contact Dr
Ken Ridal firstname.lastname@example.org.
17 NEIMME H&S to Methane Generation and
Much More, speaker – Bill Tonks. 18.00, Neville
Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne.
22 SMEA Developments in Fexible Pipes for Deep
Sea Oil and Gas Production, speaker – Richard
Clements, Newcastle Innovation Centre Leader.
17.30 for 18.00, Holiday Inn, Sheffield.
31 NEIMME Natural Materials lecture, speaker –
Mike Moody. 17.30 18.00, Neville Hall, Newcastle
Steve Richardson speaking at
the launch of UK Tribology.
NORTH WEST AND
12 MMS Tribological and Material Challenges for
Wind Turbines, speaker – Dr Robert, Vestas Wind
Turbines. 18.45, Manchester University. Followed
by buffet supper
TBC NWPkgMS Visit to Reaseheath Food Centre.
18.30 for 19.00, Reaseheath.
9 MSC Carbon capture and climate engineering,
speaker – Dr Nils Markussin. 19.30, Hunday Manor
16 MMS Keeping Space Moving: Space Tribology
and Mechanisms, speaker – Grant Munro, ESR
Technology Ltd. 18.45, Manchester University.
TBC NWPkgMS National Flexibles: Flexible
packaging print processes training session,
speaker – David Daniels. 18.30 for 19.00, Sci-
8 MSC The History and Technology of Adhesive
Tapes, speaker – Stephen Winterbottom. 19.30,
Hunday Manor Hotel, Workington.
TBC NWPkgMS Visit to Warburtons factory. 18.30
for 19.00, Bolton.
28 INMG UK Space Programme, speaker – Dr Jon
Lapington, University of Leicester. 18.15, Belfast
Campus, University of Ulster.
3 SPRA SPC. 18.30 for 19.00, Merchiston Campus,
Edinburgh Napier University.
5 SPRA RW Thomson Lecture. 18.30 for 19.00.
LAUNCHED AT IOM3
The new headquarters of IOM3 recently
hosted the launch of UK Tribology (UKT).
UKT is a network for people interested in the
effect of surface contact and resulting wear,
and how to minimise and manage it. UKT is
unique in being a partnership between five
professional bodies – IOM3, IET, IMechE,
IOP and RSC which allows coverage of the
breadth and width of science and engineering.
The launch event was attended by 100
delegates from both academia and industry,
chaired by Professor Robert Wood, University
of Southampton, and organised primarily by
Professor Martin Priest, University of Bradford,
both respected experts in the field of tribology.
The programme for the day was varied
covering aerospace and automotive aspects
of tribology, as well as the science behind it.
Speakers included, Richard Wellman - Rolls
Royce, Steve Richardson - Jaguar Land Rover
and Ian Hutchings - George Plint and Hugh
Spikes, the latter giving a very entertaining
take on matters.
To cap the day off, UKT was very proud
that Peter Jost from the International
Tribology Council, who coined the term
tribology and produced the very influential
Jost Report back in 1966, gave the plenary
talk. This report, which celebrates 50 years
in 2016, is still current, and part of the brief
of UKT is to build on this and develop up a
successor. As well as Peter, another of the
stalwarts of tribology, Professor Duncan
Dowson, University of Leeds, talked about
the Jost Report, and how professional bodies
should work with industry and academia
to further understand the effect tribology
has every day and how to incorporate best
practice into design, early on.
There was also a poster display and
competition, proving that research is active
and thriving. Networking and a Q&A session
highlighted that there was a need for UKT to
join up academia and industry, and delegates
were invited to join and get involved.
Anybody with an interest in tribology is
welcome to get involved, take a look at the
UK Tribology website www.uktribology.net
or email email@example.com in the first
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
y o U N G e NR e Mw es M& B eNRos t’ i c eosM M i t t e e
Members of the YMC at the
2015 Matopoly event.
yMc Review oF 2015
Dr Kate Thornton and Dr Rachael Ambury
2015 was a busy year for the YMC since we took over from Dr John Forsdike and Dr Daniel Barber
as Chair and Vice-chair, respectively. We are hoping to build on their good work and would like to
take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work over the past few years. Since we took over
in January 2015, there has been a number of successful events and changes.
Firstly, we continue to judge and award the Silver Medal, the premier award presented annually to
a Younger Member (normally under the age of 35) in recognition of an outstanding contribution to a
field of interest within the materials, minerals or mining sector. This year the worthy recipient was Dr
Matthew Cole from the University of Cambridge, who has since become a member of the YMC.
The Young Persons’ Lecture Competition continues to go from strength to strength. The regional,
country and world finals were competitive and showcased a wide range of subjects relating to IOM3
core themes. Congratulations to all those who took part in the competition this year with special
mention to the World Final winner Kevin Doherty. The local heats for 2016 have been announced
with the UK final on 20 April. Next year, the Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition Final is to
be held in Brazil, so why not apply and maybe we will see you there.
October saw the return of Matopoly, which this year arrived in Birmingham. Despite the inclement
weather, more than 40 people turned up to take part in our competitive materials themed treasure
hunt around the city. In the end, TiCNi 3 , a team of students from Birmingham University, were
victorious ahead of two teams tied for second place! We would like to thank the sponsors of the
event - Croda, Jaguar Land Rover, University of Birmingham and EMMS - for their support allowing us
to provide networking opportunities for the Younger Members. Following queries from many of the
participants the YMC can confirm that the next Matopoly event will take place on 23 April 2016 in
Oxford. Look out for details of how to the take part in upcoming issues of MW and on the website.
In November, as part of the opening week of the new London offices, the YMC in conjunction
with the Schools Affiliate Scheme, hosted the inaugural Materials Matter Schools Conference.
The event was attended by 48 students and their teachers, and aimed to provide students with an
insight into studying or pursuing a career in materials, minerals or mining. The event was a great
success with great feedback from all the attendees. Special thanks go to the Worshipful Company
of Armourers & Brasiers who sponsored the event and to Professor Mark Miodownik who gave an
excellent talk on the past, present and future of materials. You can read more about this event in
this edition of Materials World.
In 2016, we hope to build on the success of 2015 and host more events for our Younger
Members. In addition to the two Matopoly events, we will be hosting a guide to becoming
chartered later on in the year.
L–R: Silver Medal winner, Dr Matthew
Cole and IOM3 President, Mike Hicks.
Keep in touch with the YMC
NEW CPD RECORDING
IOM3 has entered into an agreement with the
Engineering Council to provide our members
with access to the MyCareerPath online
system for planning and recording professional
MyCareerPath allows members to plan
and log their PD activities against specific
competencies related to registration, such as
Chartered Engineer. It also has the capability
for sending plans and records for review.
IOM3 is currently working on integrating
MyCareerPath with the IOM3 website so that
members can access the system directly from
their own web profile page. After a period of
testing, the system will be made available to
members in the early part of 2016.
70 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016
theme of this month’s crossword is
Instruments, Equipment and Measurements
1 It can be used for accurately measuring small gaps (10)
6 This needs to be deducted before measuring the weight of any
substance in a container (4)
10 Don’t leave this in place when making photographic records! (4,3)
11 A charged group of atoms containing one or more water
12 This measures 26 Across to assist in identifying materials (12)
16 It’s used to take increments from trees for measuring their rings (5)
17 Putting together in some defined order (9)
20 French dish with sausages (9)
21 One time through an experiment or trial, for example (5)
22 Cambridge College attended by Tom Kilburn, co-inventor of the
first random-access memory device (6-6)
26 Divisions of light or colour, used in measuring the presence of
elements, etc (7)
27 The early ‘art’ of science? (7)
29 Operator of the largest particle physics lab in the world (4)
30 This could be a colourimeter or a voltage and current measurement
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
16 17 18 19
26 27 28
1 Term used for the amount of a substance (in chemistry) (4)
2 Agrees to commit a wrongful act (9)
3 Cement-bonded particleboard (grade) (1,1,1)
4 Experimental results are usually this (9)
5 Surname of the US pioneer of the high-pressure steam engine (5)
7 Nitrogen-containing compound derived from carboxylic acid (5)
8 Device for heating samples to high temperatures (4)
9 You don’t want your photographic records to be this! (3-2-5)
13 Make a scientific measurement of the age of something organic
14 Early computers! (5)
15 An electroanalytical technique for measuring free metal ion
18 What a digital camera can automatically add to photographic
19 A small amount added or subtracted (9)
22 A force often measured in loading experiments (5)
23 One of the Greek Muses (5)
24 An institute for technical communication (initials) (4)
25 Surname of the inventor of a machine that could 22 Down
28 Abbreviation for the way webpage use (or popularity) may be
Next month’s theme is Aerospace
The Materials World
crossword is available
To promote your company on this page and
establish an association with IOM3 members,
call Lea Crompton: 01476 513 890
B E J
B L A C K W O O 7 D
8 P I N E
A T K I O O G
L A T V I A N 10 M A K O R E
S E E I E A
N N U 12 A L R I N G S 13 14
D A F
M N Y O H E I
A D D E R
S T S
I A I
E D 21 B R O A D L E A 22 V E D
I I G J I O
A N O L O 24 O A R I O
L T F U A O R
L L I
F I R E W A L L S
Y C N A A
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
Tel: +44 (0) 1476 513 890
February issue: 15 January
Recruitment advertisements also appear at www.materialsjobs.co.uk
R&D Product Development Manager
• Excellent Salary Plus benefits •
• UK North West •
NGF Europe Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of NSG Group of Japan and is at the forefront of the manufacture and marketing of specialised
glass cord products. The products are mainly used as reinforcement of synchronous automotive drive belts and NGF is known as a world
class manufacturer of glass cord with a number of existing patents and future patents pending. Recently they have won the Queens Award for
Enterprise in Innovation and work with many of the leading global automotive suppliers.
There is now an opportunity for NGF to employ a Product Development Manager in the R&D team, reporting to the Technical Manager. This
forms part of the succession planning process for the team and the appointee will have the potential to step up into the position of Technical
Manager in the future and form part of the company leadership team.
The role consists of making a direct contribution to cord R&D, including invention and patenting; customer management and leadership of
a major customer; contact with suppliers to improve performance and cost as well as form part of the NGF Europe management team to help
ensure safety and quality (within TS16949).
Detailed product training will be given, but candidates should be materials scientists with a specialism in rubber or
latex technology, composite reinforcement by glass fibre, adhesion, polymer chemistry/physics, rheology or mechanical
engineering. Education should be to a minimum of honours degree in Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science.
Finally, you will need to demonstrate proficiency in experimentation, analysis and invention; the ability to produce and
deliver reports and presentations, and show a clear understanding of commercial business and customer needs.
If you are interested in finding out more, please send your CV and current remuneration details to George Wealthall at
firstname.lastname@example.org quoting reference 100154.
Classified advertisements note: Prospective employers who have responsibility for recruiting technical staff are encouraged when using these pages
to specify Institute qualifications as part of the requirements for the post to be filled. The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining endeavours to
provide a service to industry by guaranteeing that through their various qualifications (FIMMM, MIMMM, Grad IMMM), potential employees have
reached a qualification standard of professional ability and competence additional to their academic attainment.
72 MATERIALS WORLD JANUARY 2016 @materialsjobs Go to www.materialsjobs.co.uk
The Member’s Benevolent Trust:
Metallurgical and materials testing
The Member’s Benevolent Trust, the MBT, of the Institute of
Materials, Minerals and Mining is looking for an individual with an
interest in charity work to assist with the administration of the MBT.
The post is part time and would suit a member who is recently
retired or on a career break. The duties are currently carried out by
a Trustee on an honorary basis plus expenses. However, the MBT
would consider paying an Honorarium, to be negotiated with the
The MBT meets three times a year and has some thirty beneficiaries.
The secretary would be expected to organize and minute these
meetings and to liaise with the beneficiaries in conjunction with the
MBT Chairman, and Honorary Treasurer.
Tel: +44(0) 1709 833763 or +44(0) 1709 833762 Email: email@example.com
CNC Precision 2014 BLUE.pdf 1 05/12/2013 15:14
To express your interest and for further details, please contact:
The Member’s Benevolent Trust
297 Euston Road
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
All enquiries handled in confidence
CNC Precision 2014.pdf 1 05/12/2013 14:28
Test piece manufacturer
• Standard and custom-built models
• From bench-top to pilot-plant scale
T: (44) 01433 621515
Ovens to 1800ºC
Go to www.iom3.org/marketplace
JANUARY 2016 MATERIALS WORLD
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