Materials World - all features 2008
A technology response to ‘low’ oil prices is presented. The future role of large corporations is discussed.
Robert Amsterdam, Principal Lawyer at Amsterdam & Peroff, London, UK, discusses the dangers facing companies operating overseas. Advice is offered for successful operations.
Continuous professional development is not just a requirement for professional qualifications, it can also increase company productivity and benefit your career. The Open University and Smithers Rapra are examples of organisations offering relevant training.
Advances in nanotechnologies and photocatalytic materials could make dirt-free fibres and clothing a reality. Concepts, recent developments and potential applications are described.
As the new UK National Apprenticeship Service sets out its priorities, Meagan Ellis finds out more about apprenticeships for young people in UK industry, and how the Service aims to support companies in providing such training.
The UK’s new Engineering Diploma for 14-19-year-olds is being taught from this September. Rupal Mehta explores its development, and what it means for education in the country and a sector dominated by an ageing workforce.
Historic and modern uses of vitreous enamel are presented.
Composite flexible material developments for the aerospace and defence markets are presented. Including clothing for military use and a spacecrew emergency module.
The quest for stealth has required new materials solutions. Radar absorbent materials, material structure and biomimetics all play a role.
Climate change has presented businesses with significant challenges and opportunities. Ivan Rebrik, Head of the Health and Safety Executive Department at UC RUSAL, discusses the Russian aluminium producer’s strategy.
Gold is well documented in the Celtic fringe of Britain and Ireland, but most discoveries (or rediscoveries) have been small high-grade deposits that could be mined with minimal equipment. This article looks at new gold exploration in the Republic of Ireland.
Berkeley Mineral Resources is restarting the mining of lead and zinc deposits in Kabwe, Zambia, and addressing pollution.
Discussing the progress made in lightweighting alloys for transport applications and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Reviewing a two-day conference and exhibition entitled ‘Energy Materials: Meeting the Challenge’, organised by the Energy Materials Working Group of Materials UK, held at Loughborough University, UK, on 9-10 October. Sessions covered fossil energy, renewables, transmission, nuclear, and distribution and storage, clear and consistent messages and priorities.
Comparing the performance of magnesium to other metals in car components. The Jaguar XF's instrument panel and its associated components are carried by a magnesium cross car beam. Without this beam the instrument panel would not be possible in its current form.
High strength titanium alloys, typically Ti-6Al-4V, are used extensively in aeroplanes. However, titanium has poor tribological properties which limit its application. Multi-element diffusion treatments could offer improvements.
My reaction on hearing that the state-owned French electricity company EDF had purchased UK nuclear company British Energy (BE) was a mixture of pleasure and pain.
The European Aluminium Awards 2008 were given out during the Aluminium 2008 conference, at Messe Essen in Germany on 23 September. Lotus Engineering UK took the overall Jury Prize for the Evora aluminium sports car chassis.
There is a common misunderstanding that corrosion engineering and corrosion management are identical concepts with similar features and applications. This article explains the difference and importance of both.
The importance of managing corrosion in the offshore industry, the difficulties faced and the drivers for action. The Health and Safety Executive has challenged the industry to improve performance and is undertaking an inspection focused on production installation duty holders.
A report on carbon capture and storage as part of the energy materials series from Materials UK. There are three main technologies available - post-combustion, oxy-combustion and pre-combustion - all of which are being considered for use in the UK.
The Departments of Materials and Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London, UK, have been awarded roughly £5.5m by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to set up a national Centre for Structural Ceramics we discuss the plans.
The Intermetallic Materials Processing in Relation to Earth and Space Solidification Integrated project (IMPESS) project led by the European Space Agency is finding novel applications for intermetallic materials.
ExtreMat partners are working to generate new commercial materials, multi-material components and crosscutting processing technologies for use in fields such as nuclear fusion, space and aerospace.
I recently noticed that in Hellemans and Bunch’s outstanding chronology of science and technology, The Timetables of Sciences, there was only one item in the ‘Technology’ column for 1,000A
Michael Forrest talks to Steve Kidd, Director of Strategy and Research at the World Nuclear Association, London, UK, about uranium and its potential as a sustainable energy source.
Keith Harrison, Chairman of the IOM3 Surface Engineering Division, reports on how surface engineering has become more environmentally friendly
Surface engineering is vital to the success of almost every commercial and industrial product, from aero engines to razor blades. It is a critical enabling technology that underpins every industrial and manufacturing sector. The new Surface Engineering Division Strategy of IOM3 encompasses the needs of British industry to enable predictive design of important components and products with minimum waste and the use of more sustainable materials and environmentally friendly processes.
UK experts Peter Hall, from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and Steve Tennison, from MAST Carbon Technology Ltd, Guildford, report on energy storage in the energy materials series from Materials UK.
In my August column I suggested that we have robbed our children’s children of daylight, or at least of the ability to turn night into day. This month I will expound on the theme.
Jack Stoch, CEO of Globex Mining Enterprises, based in Quebec, Canada, speaks to Michael Forrest about the company’s business plan of exploration, discovery and royalties.
David Rickerby, Head of Surface Engineering at Rolls-Royce plc, Derby, UK, introduces everyday uses of surface engineering.
Continuing our series on energy materials, we examine the potential of biomass.
Jim King, Principle Inspector at the Health and Safety Executive in Northern Ireland, UK, discusses the implications of REACH legislation on the materials and manufacturing sectors dealing with chemical substances.
Mentioning Pascal's Wager in a discussion of global warming in my July column has resulted in a flurry of e-mails (as a reminder, Pascal suggested that is was advisable to believe in God and eterna
John McGagh, Head of Innovation at Rio Tinto, sets out his company’s vision for the future of mining.
Scientists at the ISIS neutron research centre in Didcot, UK, are developing a bioactive glass that releases calcium into the body as it dissolves. This could enable patients to regrow bones and may signal an alternative to bone transplants.
Implantable medical devices must possess sufficient corrosion resistance to the human body’s saline environment to maintain structural and functional integrity, as well as minimise the release of leachable substances which might otherwise react adversely with the surrounding tissue. In vitro corrosion testing is crucial to achieve effective materials selection for these devices.
Researchers from Brunel University, UK, explore the use of diamond-like coatings for medical devices to reduce metal ion migration in human tissue.
In every year of the millennium so far, more steelplant has been commissioned than was put to work in the whole of the previous decade. The design and manufacturing techniques for steelplant engineering that were previously neglected are now being realised, leading to reenergised blast furnaces, slab casters, rolling mills and mechanical shearing.
The Outokumpu Stainless Research Foundations in Sweden and the UK have been working to generate new knowledge and provide opportunities for young people to carry out academic work on this class of materials. Since 1989, support has been provided to 62 students, with over half gaining doctorates. The support ranges from fully-funded studentships to supplementary grants and assistance in kind.
The European automobile industry is facing legislation to achieve significant reductions in CO2 levels for new vehicles by 2012. In the meantime, the industry is introducing new technologies to offer lower CO2 products. There are three fundamental ways to improve economy and emissions. In order of effectiveness, these are to improve powertrain efficiency, reduce weight and increase aerodynamic efficiency.
Methane is a valuable fuel, and compared with other hydrocarbons it produces less CO2 per unit of energy generated. Capturing methane and using it as fuel could be a positive step in reducing its effect on climate change. One UK company that has exploited this is Alkane Energy plc, a Nottinghamshire-based company which runs methane based power plants.
Current UK plans to meet heightened demand for energy, low emissions and cost effective electrical power centre on a mixed approach – renewables, nulcear power and fossil fuel (coal and gas) plants. Gas turbines will thus be a major element of future UK power generation and are one of the most versatile, flexible and efficient forms of power generation.
Techniques to teach steelmaking and steel processing within an undergraduate curriculum can be problematic. However, there is an alternative in the form of steeluniversity.org, which aims to provide e-learning resources covering all aspects of iron and steelmaking, including applications and recycling.
Reporting standards differ globally. This article provides an overview and reports on the 'exposure draft' of the PERC Code 2008.
As a nuclear buff I should have been cheered by George Smith’s article ‘Going nuclear – again’ published in the March issue ofMaterials World, in which he describes the UK’s nuclear renaissance.
My brother Rex, a University of Birmingham metallurgist, is a keen advocate of the hydrogen cycle as a part-solution to global warming.
Exploration in the 1980s discovered a large sub-bituminous coal deposit 800km north of Adelaide, South Australia. Altona Resources, an AIM and Australian stock exchange listed company is implementing a development plan using a number of established technologies to convert coal-to-liquid (CTL) fuels and provide gas for power generation.
While much sports apparatus must be light and stiff, favouring composites and polymers, the transfer of force from product to athlete needs to be considered. The ability to alter dynamic properties in polymeric and polymer-matrix composites allows optimisation of these materials for sport.
A unique application of oil and gas well drilling fluids has created a profitable new opportunity for the Bernic Lake pegmatite in Manitoba, Canada. Drilling for oil and gas requires the well to be filled with a dense fluid or drilling mud to prevent highly-pressured fluids and gases entering the well bore and flowing to the surface, cesium formite drilling mud improves project economics and reduces the operational risk of developing oil and gas reservoirs.
Materials selection can affect tennis racket and player performance. The stiffness-related vibration of the frame and shock transmission to the player are common complaints that manufacturers are addressing through applications such as piezo materials.
Many motorsport innovations rely on carbon fibre composites (CFCs) to provide specific properties that are unobtainable with traditional metallic materials and manufacturing techniques. But it is not enough to take an existing metallic component and simply change it to a CFC.
The Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) sets limits for the emission of sulphur dioxides, nitrogen oxides and dust from power stations, petroleum refineries and other industrial processes powered by gas, liquid or solid fuel. To comply with the targets, UK coal-fired power stations have either opted out of the LCPD, meaning they have only 20,000 hours operation remaining from January 2008, or are using, or installing, a flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) system.
Energy management is a task of growing importance in materials processing, but there is no structure for measurement, assessment and prediction. Dr Robin Kent, Managing Director of Tangram Technology Ltd, a UK consultant engineering firm specialising in energy management in plastics processing offers hints on how to measure and minimise energy use.
How a polarising microscope is used to investigate the fabric and mineralogy of concrete as a building material.
A gold mining project in Romania has been delayed for over eight years. Fergus Anckorn, Technical Director of global consultants AMEC Earth & Environmental, presents his view of the situation arguing that NGOs have unduly held up the process.
'Dawn of a new nuclear age’ was a headline in the Guardian on 22 March.
Neil Battison, Electrical Engineer at UK Coal’s Daw Mill Colliery, reports on the move to a new mine operating system.
A discussion of a report on the mapping of materials supply chains in the UK’s power generation sector, issued by Materials UK.
Derek Allan, chair of the Energy Materials Working Group, reviews the Materials UK Energy Materials Strategic Research Agendaand describes the opportunities it presents.
Successful companies need to build on their accomplishments and come up with the next generation of products. Katherine Williams spoke to Alan Begg of Swedish bearing company SKF Group about his experience as a materials scientist and recruiter.
Diamond-like carbon coatings on aircraft can offer environmental and health benefits. Medical and electronic applications, including surgical implants and hard-disk heads, benefit from this versatile material, which has recently been used on razor blades and for high-performance manufacturing applications.
New Zealand has maximised its advantage of being small but well connected, in the field of biopolymers and biocomposites. Scientists are testing the potential of electrospun proteins and polysaccharides as industrial raw materials. These spun materials have exceptional mechanical properties and high specific surface areas that can be exploited to make low-pressure-drop selective active filtration elements.
Developments in materials and joining processes which are improving on-road and environmental performance.
Packaging has a positive role to play in the prevention of food waste, both in getting food to the consumer and in providing them with better ways to manage their food inventory.
Structural geology techniques can assist in mineral exploration and resource development. Structural restoration and validation of 2D and 3D models allows the prediction of palaeo-surface geometries, fault architecture and fluid migration pathways, through geological time.
The UK’s Bristol flood alleviation project involved digging a 805m long sewer beneath the historic city.
‘I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai Bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.'
The UK automotive industry is enjoying a revival similar to that of its heyday of the mid 1960s to 1970s. There are, however, new materials challenges to be faced in future.
Mining has always been associated with risk, and as the search for metals and minerals expands, companies are operating in increasingly dangerous and remote locations. These higher hazard levels coincide with a shortage of experienced and well-trained human resources specialists, and greater focus on an employer’s duty of care. This responsibility can be divided into a moral obligation to protect employees and a legal obligation to protect the company.
A new in-mould painting process, called ‘IN-SPIRE’, it coats injection mouldings with a thermoset paint during production. The process is likely to find application in many sectors, with the automotive industry a major beneficiary.
A few months ago the Deputy Editor of an Iranian newspaper rang me to ask if, as Vice-Chair of British Pugwash, I agreed that, Iran, as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, had every right to construct nuclear power stations and related facilities for peaceful purposes.
The Atlantic Basins of Ireland are an under-explored frontier petroleum province with proven working hydrocarbon systems. A new evaluation of the area focuses on a major revision of the tectonic and deposition systems evolution.
Thermal spray coating technologies are widely used in the automotive industry. Transmission and engine parts are coated in large volumes using thermal spray processes, including plasma, high velocity oxygen fuel, combustion and electric arc.
Growing environmental awareness and the desire to meet consumer needs without compromising future generations adds new challenges to the design, development and production of vehicles. Separation and recyclability of materials are paramount as is weight reduction.
It is axiomatic that nothing can move faster than light, but it is worth remembering that this is only true for propagations in vacuo.
China's coal industry has risen to the challenge of powering what is predicted to become the world’s largest economy. The sector's unique structure sees conflict between large state-owned mines and a myriad of small mines operating on a local authority or private basis. It is also influenced by rising demand for coal in non-mining areas and the desire by the Government to cap electricity prices, reduce exports, focus coal to the domestic industries and keep prices under control.
A new polymer could lead to cheaper fuel cells. ElectroPhen is a thermoset polymer, whose polymerisation generates nanostructures of conductive pathways. For bipolar plate applications, graphite is used as the filler.
Michael Forrest reports on the use of computer modelling software by mining company St Barbara Ltd, in Melbourne, Australia. The company has used Gemcom’s Surpac geology and mine planning software at its Sons of Gwalia mine in Australia.
The increase in the use of plastic as a pipe material to transport gas and water has been attributed to factors such as corrosion resistance, strength-to-weight ratio, lightness, flexibility and cost. One joining process for pipes is electrofusion welding. But defects can occur due to poor practices. Polytec, a project from the European Commission and The Welding Institute (TWI), based in Cambridge, UK, has resulted in in-manufacture, online, non-destructive, quality control of polyethylene electrofusion joints using ultrasonic phased arrays.
Vulcanised rubber is one of the most widely used and important materials. In 1857, a book by Thomas Hancock introduced the manufacturing process to Europe. He worked closely with Charles Macintosh and studied samples of Charles Goodyear’s vulcanised rubber.
The EU aims to meet 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. Organic photovoltaics — solar cells made from plastics — could be one promising avenue. They take the form of a flexible, light film that can be easily attached to other materials and adapted to different colours and designs. This has led to potential commercial applications in the construction industry, where plastic cells could be used as a thin film on roofs, windows and facades. Moreover, they could feature in foldable chargers for mobile phones and other gadgets on car roofs, or in clothes.
In 1666 in a darkened room, Newton placed a glass prism in a sunbeam emanating from a small hole in a shutter and generated a rainbow on the opposite wall. He correctly, though controversially, concluded that the colours he saw were components of white light.
Techniques to image materials at the micron scale and below include scanning and transmission electron microscopes (SEM and TEM) and scanning probe microscopes (SPM). The dynamical behaviour of nano-objects is quite different from those of ‘bulk’ materials. The development of SPM probes for electron microscopes is enabling real-time testing of nanovolumes of material, and is providing the opportunity to make movies of nanomaterials in motion.
Nanotechnology, thin films and coatings are becoming increasingly evident and finding function in many industrial applications. To simulate the service life of a particular system and improve efficiency, it is important to characterise the material’s properties.
Michael Forrest visited the Araxá niobium mine in Brazil to learn about the metal's production. Current production capacity is around 80,000t. Of this, 70,000t is of standard grade ferro-niobium, 4,000t is of high purity oxide, 3,000t of vacuum grade ferro-niobium or nickel niobium, 300t of optical grade oxide and 210t of pure niobium.
Nanotechnology development in the UK is at a critical phase. The Chairman of the Institute's Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology Group takes a look at the industry and its goals for the future.
The most recent IOM3 Commodity Day focused on copper, covering the market’s price drivers and the long and short-term prospects for consumption and supply, environmental concerns, pryometallurgical extraction, acid leaching, smelting and exploration.
Sophisticated technologies are used to discover new drugs, which result in a broad variety of active compounds with high specificity and potency. These drugs need to reach the right place (cell or tissue) in the body, in an adequate concentration and for a specific time period, to have the desired therapeutic effect.
Spintronics has made a major impact on daily life by driving increases in hard drive information storage density over the last decade. However, the discipline has not yet influenced traditional information processing, where circuits of silicon transistors dominate.