Materials World Sample Issue


Materials World is the IOM3 monthly members' magazine, specifically devoted to the engineering materials cycle, from mining and extraction, through processing and application, to recycling and recovery.

The magazine is widely accepted as the leading publication in its field, promoting the latest developments and new technologies.



The voice of the

materials, minerals and

mining communities.



31 JANUARy 2016






21–23 / September / 2016



Organised by

Co-ordinated by the Society

for Adhesion and Adhesives


Society for Adhesion

and Adhesives

which is linked to the

Surface Engineering

Division of




Image ©Industrieverband Klebstoffe

Materials World

there’s an app for that

The Materials World app – bringing materials to life

Download the app now

FREE for IOM3 members

For further details, visit

Available on mobile and tablet

devices via Apple, Android and Kindle



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’

funding gap

30 Q&A

Lucy Ackland talks about bringing together academia

and industry


32 Engineering the Earth

Rhiannon Garth Jones examines the issues

surrounding geoengineering

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

24 Letters

55 Spotlight

57 Diary dates

61 Material of the month:

silicon carbide

65 Institute News

71 Crossword



The members’ magazine of The Institute

of Materials, Minerals and Mining


James Perkins


Simon Frost


Rhiannon Garth Jones


Khai Trung Le


Natalie Daniels


Katherine Williams



Viki Taylor


Lara Collins

Joe Chakravorty

Dev Parmar


Materials World

297 Euston Road, London NW1 3AQ


Tel +44 20 7451 7300


Lea Crompton

Tel +44 1476 513 890


To become a member, change address or

report a missed copy of Materials World

Tel +44 1782 221 717





Tel +44 1132 432 800


Personal – £69 (EU)/US$129 (non-EU) per annum

Institutional – £365 (EU)/US$621 (non-EU) per annum


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

engineering nous?

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



Twitter @materialsworld




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.

ISSN 0967-8638

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

under the Berne Convention and the international Copyright Convention. All rights

reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study,

as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, no part of this

publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any

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.


© Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University


Sowing the

seeds of

electronic plants

Below: A sheet of

hydrogel is bonded to a

matrix of polymer islands

that can encapsulate

electronic components

such as semiconductor

chips, LED lights, and

temperature sensors.

Above: Researchers

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

and development.'

To read the full paper, Electronic plants, published in Science Advances in November

2015, visit

© Melanie Gonick/MIT




© 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

fell below

US$40 per


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

chiton’s shell.

In December 2015, the

Brent Crude Oil price

was around

US$40 per



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

Below: Hydrogel with

the boron nitride sheets

is nearly 50% more

thermally conductive

than without.

Rio Tinto will cut its

capital expenditure in

2016 by around 17%,



© University of Wollongong



Left: The Herschel

space observatory

(2009–2013) allowed

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.

Something fishy

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.

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.

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.




Tweaking tailings

Recent events have raised the profile of tailings storage

safety. Rhiannon Garth Jones reports.

The village of

Bento Rodrigues

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.



© Riverhugger

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

company said.

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,





Plugging the

North Sea

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.

Finding efficiencies

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




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

decommissioning process.




© Anubis100/Wikimedia Commons

Thermal focus

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

environmental impacts.’

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

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.

Above: Unmodified

European ash (left)

and thermally modified

ash (right).



Recycled PVC:

an uncertain future?

Left: Bis(2-ethylhexyl)

phthalate (DEHP or

dioctylphthalate, DOP)

molecule, chemical


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.






© 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.’

Global promise

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

CO 2

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



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

greener energy.

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.

Critical timing

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

Quest, Canada.


The Peterhead CCS

Project was originally

planned to capture 10-

15Mt of CO 2

within 15

years of completion.

For more information on mitigating carbon emissions,

see Engineering the Earth, on page 32.




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

sustainable materials.

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.



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.


forward thinking

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.

Now #Trending

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.’




Purity provides

an edge

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.

Strain hardening

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

on PNAS.


The microstructure of

heterogeneous lamella

Ti, as recorded by

Yuntian Zhu.

We couldn’t

have predicted

this when we

first did the


According to

our current


there is no way

to do this.



© Aston University


False colour HAADF-

STEM visualisation

of a 3D hierarchical

nanoporous catalyst

possessing spatially

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




© 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

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 and

Unprecedented lightness

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

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.

© INM-Leibniz

Above: Distribution of ceramic particles in the plastic

digital X-ray detector visualised by electron microscopy.



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

MoS 2

membrane filtering

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

Gelling together

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 –

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.

Simply sintering

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.






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.





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.





Globalisation has placed

an added responsibility on

managers and leaders to

understand and accommodate

people from various cultures,

Paul Keighley writes.

Paul Keighley

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

negotiation skills.

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.




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

CAPR (1989).

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.

Igor Catić



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

physical products.

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).








Send letters to

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



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

Under pressure

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




Innovation vs


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

and commercialisation.


Peter Dobson,

previously Director of

the Begbroke Science

Park, Professor of

Engineering Science

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

several universities.


Professor Derek Fray


is Director of Research

and Emeritus Professor

of Materials Chemistry

at the University of



Richard Holliday CEng

FIMMM, Deputy Head

of Technology Transfer

–Engineering and

Material Sciences at Isis

Innovation, University

of Oxford.


Peter Deakin,

Technology Transfer

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

commercial sales.

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

to commercialisation.’

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

revenue generation.’

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.




is spent on the

domestic product

of research

in the current

science budget.

Alternative help

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

commercial potential.’

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

your vision.’

Going forward

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.’


successfully funded

projects through

Kickstarter as of 17

November 2015.


research grant

proposals to EPSRC

were considered

through peer review

between April

2014–March 2015.

The EPSRC provided

funding for 914

of these.

To read the Dowling

report in full, visit




27–28 January

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:

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



8–9 March

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: Website:

Welding Inspector

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: Website:

15–16 March


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: Website:

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: Website:

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: Website:

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:



12–13 April

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: Website:

May 2016

Level 5, Diploma in

Packaging Technology

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

experience required.

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:

Telephone: +44 (0)1142 224446 / +44(0)7545 429434


Coming Soon

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:




Natalie Daniels speaks to Lucy Ackland, a Project

Manager at Renishaw, about her early career in

engineering and bringing together academia

and industry.



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.


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.



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.



© Local World



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.



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.



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

type technologies.


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,






the Earth

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



© 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

recent years.

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.




© 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

for longer.

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

rising temperatures.



© Downtowngal


A reforestation

programme in South

Oregon, the USA.

Reforestation is one of

the simplest and most

popular attempts to

capture carbon.

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





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.

Looking forward

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

engineering technologies.’

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

phytoplankton bloom

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.





solar future

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

Above: Concentrated

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 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.

Crystalline standard

‘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

crystalline silicon.'

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

opportunities there.’

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.’

Above: Ground-mounted

crystalline silicon solar

PV, as in La Calahorra,

Spain, currently offers

the lowest cost.



Annual domestic

energy subsidies cost

Saudi Arabia


The target of 41GW

by 2040 is marginally

higher than Germany’s

current solar capacity of


Climate Action Tracker

estimates that the

eight-year delay

to Saudi Arabia’s

target will create

an additional

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.





and energy

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

the electrodes.

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.



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 -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

rare-earth ‘guest’

atoms (white balls)

into the iron–antimony

skutterudite crystal

structure reduces its

thermal conductivity.

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.




Right (top): The planar

symmetrical structure

of the flat liquid-crystal

molecule, HAT6.

Right (bottom): The

HAT6 then twists

and tilts, giving a

dynamically averaged

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.



The Nellis Solar Power

Plant array, Nevada,

USA. The system

contains approximately

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

investigating the


generation of electricity

using waste heat from


The future

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




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?

Looking forward

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

Steel Corporation,


Pennsylvania, USA.




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

Secondary production

Primary production





Rest of




3Mt net

prompt scrap

UK steel


2Mt net

prompt scrap





Rest of world



Exports of finsihed

steel products











Exports ofsteel


in final goods


Buildings and infrastructure





UK in-use




97Mt Metal



Steel in end-of-life goods





lost scrap

Scrap to


1000 Mte

Average life expectancy

for steel = 38 years

Steel end use = 1025 Mte/year

Other metal products

Domestic appliances


Electrical machinery


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)

750 Mte

500 Mte

Mechanical machinery


Line pipe

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

required production

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)

250 Mte

© Elsevier, from Component level strategies

for exploiting the lifespan of steel in products,

Resources Conservation and Recycling, 84 24-32.

0 Mte





0 12.5 25 37.5 50 62.5

Expected life span (years)



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

the scrap


Who has won a

prize for scrap


For composition


sorting, refining?

Julian Allwood

is Professor of

Engineering and

the Environment at

the University of

Cambridge, author of

Sustainable Materials:

with both eyes open

and, in 2015, was made

an Honorary Fellow

of the Institute of

Materials, Minerals

and Mining.




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

research background.

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


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

staff numbers

to increase


rather than

investing in

the staff to

reduce costs

and improve

productivity and




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

comminution practices.

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

Chartered Engineer,

has been a member

of the Institute of

Materials, Minerals

and Mining since 1985

and has more than 35

years' experience in the

minerals industry. In

1997, he co-founded

Maelgwyn Mineral

Services based in

Cardiff, Wales, where

he is currently the

Managing Director. He

is a UK based Director

of the Coalition for Eco

Efficient Comminution

(CEEC) and also sits on

the Board of Directors

of Welsh Triathlon

Cymru and the British

Triathlon Federation.




Arctic freeze?

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

undiscovered gas.

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



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.

© Krichevsky




Western Australia

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



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




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.

Future opportunities

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

AAMC’s agent.

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,

Western Australia.




Functioning automatic

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.

The general

industry no

longer has as

many qualified


to facilitate



and we’ve had

to produce

machines that

allow any user to

select ‘method

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.







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

automation devices.


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.








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



27–28 Architect@Work


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

• manufacturing


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

will include:

• impact of oil price volatility

• market challenges and opportunities

• emerging specialties



The Packaging Conference


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


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.



Simpro 16


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

developing products.

Packaging Innovations


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


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





Biomaterials 2016


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

and Engineering


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

Packaging 2016


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 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

the following:

• 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

new technologies.

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



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


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.

Ceramics Expo


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. 14–15



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

Engineering 2016


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.






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

Nano Materials


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

Materials (BCCM)


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



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.






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.




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

hottest structural

components of the

Atlantis Space Shuttle.

Sharp scale

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



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

(Si 2

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

diamond-like gems.

Silicon success

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 .

Short lived

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.




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



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 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 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






N e w s P R& o FN iol te

i c e 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 environment.

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

and Engineering.

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.

Jessica Middlemiss



s a s & a w a R D s


awaRDs PReseNteD




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

and processes.

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,

Swansea University

Tom Colclough Medal and Prize Dr David Crowther, Tata Steel

Thomas Medal and Prize

Dr Andrew Howe, formerly

Tata Steel

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

Prize sponsor).




l o cNael w s o& c ine ot y t i ec ve es

n t s


South east

LMS London Materials Society

CAMS Cambridge and Anglia Materials Society

ICTa L&HC ICTa London and Home Counties

LSEPS London and South England Packaging


MinSouth MinSouth

South west and south Wales

CorIE Cornish Institute of Engineers

NDMS Newport and District Materials Society

WEMMA West of England Metals and

Materials Association

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

North east

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

(MIMinE) events

are listed in the Midlands but also apply to the

north east.

North west and north Wales

LBMES Leeds and Bradford Materials Society

MMS Manchester Metallurgical Society

NWPkgMS North West Packaging and

Materials Society

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.




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

Rescue Stations.

20 EMMS lecture. Department of Materials,

Loughborough University.

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.



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

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

upon Tyne.

Steve Richardson speaking at

the launch of UK Tribology.




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

Hotel, Workington.

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-

Tech, Daresbury


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.



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

or email in the first





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


Twitter @IOM3_YMC






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

development (PD).

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.





theme of this month’s crossword is

Instruments, Equipment and Measurements

Ú Across

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

molecules (4,3)

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

device (10)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


10 11

12 13

14 15

16 17 18 19

20 21

22 23

24 25

26 27 28

29 30

‣ Down

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

concentration (5)

18 What a digital camera can automatically add to photographic

records (4,5)

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

cloth (4)

28 Abbreviation for the way webpage use (or popularity) may be

measured (1,1,1)

By Anobium

Next month’s theme is Aerospace



The Materials World

crossword is available

for sponsorship

To promote your company on this page and

establish an association with IOM3 members,

call Lea Crompton: 01476 513 890






B L A C K W O O 7 D

8 P I N E


L A T V I A N 10 M A K O R E




N N U 12 A L R I N G S 13 14






16 R













E D 21 B R O A D L E A 22 V E D








A N O L O 24 O A R I O














Classified advertisements

Tel: +44 (0) 1476 513 890



February issue: 15 January

Recruitment advertisements also appear at

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 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

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

successful candidate.

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:

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

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


Furnaces and

Ovens to 1800ºC

Go to




... if there was an easy

way to identify your

polymer with one click.

We made it possible.

The new DSC 214 Polyma®

with AutoEvaluation® and



DSC 214 Polyma®

NETZSCH-Gerätebau GmbH

UK Branch Office


United Kingdom

Tel.: (+44) 1902 306645

Fax: (+44) 1902 725954

More magazines by this user