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Newsletter January 2014

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A word from John KCMC National Expansion Begins With Cardiff University Promoting Materials Chemistry Collaboration Quotes Enabling Buisness Success How Materials Chemistry Delivers Value to UK Economy

A WORD FROM JOHN In January last year David Willetts, the Universities and Science Minister, gave a speech outlining Eight Great Technologies that will drive the growth of UK plc. Explaining his choice, he said: “Advanced materials are a key tool for advanced manufacturing. UK businesses that produce and process materials have a turnover of around £170bn pa, represent 15% of the country’s GDP and have exports valued at £50 billion.” His vocal championing of advanced materials provided an exciting backdrop to the work of the KCMC in 2013. It has been encouraging to see a major suite of investments in the knowledge base following his announcements. But innovation in advanced materials won’t happen without strides in materials chemistry. The last year saw significant recognition of the importance of collaborative research in materials chemistry. Support has come from the Technology Strategy Board in the form of funding for the Materials Chemistry Special Interest Group (SIG) who are taking the KCMC to the next level by supporting our expansion.


So far we have predominantly focussed on the founding research institution partners in England’s North West. We’ve grown steadily, we’ve built our business model, we’ve shown it works and we’ve formed strong partnerships. We’ve had success delivering projects to support growth in manufacturing and now we’re ready to expand and move from being a regional to a national organisation. We’re very excited to announce that we have Cardiff University on board (see next item), which not only represents a geographical expansion but also an expansion of our competencies. The leading catalysis group at Cardiff University is a further major new capability and we look forward to welcoming further institutions with other strengths in the future. The KCMC is also growing by working closely with the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, another young organisation and a key player in the innovation landscape. This partnership is focussing on projects closer to market with higher Technology Readiness Levels.

A focus going forward is multidisciplinary working. By working with both Chemistry Innovation and the Materials KTN we’re bringing together disciplines needed for new materials innovation. Our event at the end of last year - New Materials: Fundamental to Growth showed just how far we have come (see page 4). The breadth of high-quality collaborations on display powerfully illustrated how a strong knowledge base can support real growth in the UK manufacturing industry. Materials chemistry is key in manufacturing throughout the supply chain, from new materials that feed into a number of industries through to companies further downstream who are focussed on very specific innovations for a particular industry. You can read about these examples in this newsletter and our annual report ( John Conti-Ramsdon, KCMC Centre Director

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Case study: Victrex - innovative high performance polymers Case study: ACAL Energy - innovations in electrochemical systems NXP Semiconductors - materials chemistry in power electronics Quotes Funding announcements and Forthcoming events

KCMC NATIONAL EXPANSION BEGINS WITH CARDIFF UNIVERSITY In line with its expanding national remit from 2014, Knowledge Centre Materials Chemistry (KCMC) has formally announced the addition of Cardiff University to its network of research institution partners. With effect from 1 January 2014 Cardiff University became KCMC’s fifth research partner - joining the Centre’s 2009 joint research institution founders Manchester, Liverpool and Bolton Universities and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Daresbury. Expanding the number and geographical footprint of KCMC research partners will bring benefits from increased engagement with industry nationwide, new strategic opportunities and extended research capabilities which complement the founder research institution partners.

The accession of Cardiff is one of the first key developments under KCMC’s recent new funding partnership with the Technology Strategy Board. The strength of the Cardiff School of Chemistry in catalysis science is internationally recognised and will bring important new capability to the KCMC especially in the context of market demand for increased sustainability and functionality in the design of new products. The Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) will lead Cardiff participation in KCMC.

“Materials chemistry is a key enabler...The time is right for new materials.”

Read more:


NEW MATERIALS: FUNDAMENTAL TO GROWTH Over 100 industry representatives and academics attended New Materials: Fundamental to Growth held in Westminster on 5th December. From fuel cells to medical devices, power

electronics to new polymers, materials chemistry is behind advances in a range of industries, driving innovation in new and advanced materials and driving growth in these sectors.

With advanced materials one of David Willetts’ ‘eight great technologies’ there is a huge amount of interest in materials chemistry and the UK is well placed to turn this interest into growth. With university research groups, government research laboratories, private sector R&D departments and innovative SMEs, there’s a wealth of academic excellence in materials chemistry to draw on. It’s this expertise in materials chemistry that is enabling the delivery of new materials.

that other European countries that have put manufacturing at the heart of their industry, such as Germany, have thrived.

John Conti-Ramsden introduced the presentations, describing how the remit of the KCMC is expanding. With new partners from across the country coming on board the KCMC is going from strength to strength, forging links between the centres of expertise in the UK to deliver new products and services to drive forward the UK economy. This work aligns with a number of other strategies. Will Barton, Head of Manufacturing at the Technology Strategy Board, outlined the links with the Technology Strategy Board priorities, including the High Value Manufacturing Strategy and the Advanced Materials Strategy. Will Barton highlighted areas where materials chemistry can make an impact, particularly in developing new sustainable technologies. Advanced materials priorities lie in materials for energy, materials security and materials for high value markets. Examples include materials for fuel cells, energy storage, cost-effective catalysts and materials resistant to salt water corrosion. Additionally materials for additive manufacturing, lightweighting and composites are focus areas. “The KCMC has all the tools in the box” to cope with new challenges in materials chemistry, he concluded. Ian Shott then spoke about the manufacturing renaissance driving the demand for new advanced materials. “Manufacturing was seen as a ‘sunset’ sector but the pendulum has begun to swing” he explained. The recession has reinforced that manufacturing is important in creating a secure and robust and economy. Ian emphasised 4

As a member of the Chemistry Growth Partnership, Ian also outlined how new materials can help to rebuild supply chains and how the Chemistry Growth Strategy recognises their importance. He used the thriving automotive sector as an example of a sector where materials are sourced from outside the UK, representing a missed opportunity for UK manufacturers. By producing high quality, high performance and high value advanced materials in the UK these supply chains will be shorter, more secure and more able to service big business. Ian emphasised that the government are reaching out and asking industry for advice and we must seize this chance to communicate clearly, despite our complexity. The Chemistry Growth Partnership is creating dialogue with the Government, and getting the voice of the chemistry-using industries heard. All of this work is underpinned by knowledge and skills, and the EPSRC are investing in intellectual capital, PhD training and key research areas to keep the innovations coming. Clive Hayter, Assistant Director, Capability, at the EPSRC explained that the worldleading universities and research groups in the UK are attracting attention with the number and quality of businessuniversity collaborations in the UK rising steadily over the last five years. Figures from the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report put the UK significantly ahead of countries such as China, France, Japan and Germany in terms of collaborative R&D. This reputation is, in turn, attracting even more leading academics and companies to our shores. Clive explained that the EPSRC is investing £385 million in reducing lead times in innovation, sustainability and the development of new materials, priorities which align closely to the Chemistry Growth Strategy. “Materials chemistry is a key enabler” he concluded. “The time is right for new materials.”

What innovation opportunities were discussed at the event? Energy generation and harvesting, efficiency, energy storage New composites and polymers Materials for lightweighting Formulated products Advanced coatings Electronics, sensors and photonics Catalysts Multifunctional materials for medical products, biomaterials and tissue engineering Sustainable materials Magnetic materials Functional ceramics Graphene and carbon nanotechnology

Event feedback

“great examples of collaboration and a great mix of attendees”

“An excellent event - very well organised and included a very high calibre of speakers”


QUOTES What are the industry sectors where there are needs for new materials innovation? Robert Quarshie, Materials KTN "New materials innovations underpin all key sectors of our economy with 70% of all innovations derived from the clever use of materials. We need to listen to industries that are calling out for new materials and provide them with exactly what they need. We’re hearing that availability is very important and durability too. A material needs to perform but needs to be resistant as industries are looking for products with a long life cycle. Circular use/reuse of materials is also important. Can you recycle or remanufacture a material? Can you repurpose it or dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way? These are all questions that materials chemistry will answer."

How do you see the challenges of developing supply chains for new advanced materials? Harry Swan, Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd. We see a huge potential for advanced materials in the UK. Through the Chemistry Growth Partnership we’re aiming to connect up opportunity with delivery. We need to support companies that are developing materials and connect them with the right people in the supply chain to bring new products to market. The KCMC is playing a critical part in ensuring the work done by the topnotch academics is turned into economic growth. The Chemistry Growth Partnership is focusing on making the right decisions and investment options today to make the difference in the coming decades, ensuring the UK remains competitive.

What key questions are you asking industry about how we can get better at innovation in advanced materials? Clive Hayter, EPSRC One of the key questions EPSRC has is “what gaps exist in the UK advanced materials research and training portfolio?” EPSRC seeks to develop partnerships between academia, government and industry to facilitate innovation in advanced materials. Industry can help this by clearly describing their problems and challenges which they face in order to remain cutting edge and competitive. Questions asked by industry can often 6

trigger advances in basic science in addition to ensuring advanced materials remain innovative. The researchers we work with also tell us that their more fundamental work can often benefit from having a close partnership with the industry that can exploit the findings. Finally by developing a close partnership between industry and academia around postgraduate training we can ensure there is a pipeline of skilled people necessary for future economic growth.

What do you see as the major opportunities for advanced materials in BP and what is the role of materials chemistry? Dr Robert Sorrell, BP Advanced materials are critical across every area of our operations and there are four main areas we are focussing on at the moment in the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials (BPICAM). The first is structural materials to address challenges ranging from pressures up to 20,000 psi found in our upstream operations to the demanding environments we face our refineries and petrochemicals plants. We're also looking at smart coatings, in particular materials that are able to self-heal or sense the environment they are operating in. We are examining a range of options including embedding a physical or chemical sensor in a material coating that reacts to a physical or chemical change. You need some really clever surface chemistry here, such as microencapsulation. Another area where advanced materials are important is in separations, something our industry relies right across its operations from upstream production, through refining and petrochemicals to biofuels production. Understanding the fundamental science of separations for example in membranes when a molecule approaches the interface with a membrane will enable enhanced performance of existing membranes and inform the development of the next generation of membranes. Completing the current set of research areas, functional materials are a critical element of our advanced fuels and lubricants offering. Understanding the fundamental science behind how these specifically tailored molecules operate in internal combustion engines will help inform the development of current and future generations of advanced fuels and lubricants.

Science has advanced enormously in the last two decades enabled my developments in computing power, modelling, characterisation and imaging and synthesis to a point where things that were unthinkable previously are now within reach, Materials chemistry has come a long way driven by cross disciplinary collaboration involving chemists, mathematicians, engineers, materials scientists and physicists.

What do you see as the opportunities for advanced materials in High Value Manufacturing? Dick Elsy, HVM Catapult We are in a unique era, the likes of which I’ve not seen before. I’ve not seen a better opportunity to reset the dials for UK manufacturing in my thirty years in the automotive industry. The Chemistry Growth Partnership is a great example of the flourishing network in the UK which is galvanizing industry towards manufacturing value added growth. I’m really encouraged to see the UK chemistry industry coming together because we’ve seen how valuable a strong trade body can be - the Aerospace Growth Partnership and Automotive Council have been instrumental in driving growth and innovation in these industries. And it’s growing sectors like aerospace and automotive which need new technologies and new materials. Demand is going through the roof! It’s mostly fuelled by the need for lighter aircraft and more fuel efficient cars, and for this we need new materials - chemistry underpins these advances. I see a terrific opportunity with the Chemistry Growth Partnership to translate that demand into growth. By working together and speaking with one strong voice the industry can help to guide government and work together on common pre-competitive threads. The case studies we’ve heard at the KCMC’s ‘Materials: Fundamental to Growth’ event are inspiring and it’s exciting to see these developments happening here in the UK. They’re high value-added products, such as the gallium nitride power electronics which will be critical in the next generation of hybrid and electrical cars which will have high power demands for switching. The UK can supply these. Academia, industry and government are aligning in a way I’ve not seen previously. It’s a brilliant opportunity for UK Plc.

ENABLING BUSINESS SUCCESS HOW MATERIALS CHEMISTRY DELIVERS VALUE TO UK ECONOMY Companies are already succeeding in materials chemistry and it is allowing them to develop novel products and reach new markets. Many of these have got to where they are now thanks to close

collaborations with research groups in UK academia. The Fundamental to Growth event heard from a number of such companies that have worked successfully with the KCMC.

CASE STUDY: VICTREX INNOVATIVE HIGH PERFORMANCE POLYMERS Victrex is a company built on materials chemistry, which has worked with the KCMC for 5 years. John Grasmeder, Technical Director at Victrex, describes recent collaborations with the University of Manchester. Victrex is unique in that their products are manufactured exclusively in the UK and 97% of their revenues are from export. Their strong monomer supply chain is a key part of the business model, giving the company supply security. One of Victrex’s biggest successes is polyaryletherketones (PEEK), a family of thermoplastics with remarkable properties. “The value proposition is strongest when there are a number of problems to solve” explained John, “and PEEK ticks quite a few boxes.” PEEK is used in the aerospace industry to replace metal piping as it is a lightweight and durable alternative and it’s very difficult to burn. The material is easily extruded and can be welded. PEEK has been approved by aerospace manufacturers and the savings are huge – by replacing 100 metres of pipe in one aircraft you can save $3,300 in fuel costs and 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide in one year. This is all down to the weight. PEEK comes in at around 50% lighter than the metals most commonly used. PEEK is also used in the automotive industry where it is being used to replace metal gears. Not only are there benefits

of lowering carbon emissions through weight reduction but the gears are 15 times more durable and significantly reduce noise levels. Engine modules fitted with the gears also achieve a remarkable 9% reduction in power consumption. “The polymer for gears came out of an idea we had during a collaboration with the University of Manchester” explained John, “and this partnership was created by the KCMC.” “This is all down to materials chemistry” said John. “We’re identifying challenges and finding solutions using materials science and chemistry. For example, components of high temperature high pressure oil wells need to perform under extreme conditions. Using materials chemistry we’ve got PEEK operating under pressures and temperatures other materials can’t withstand.” Victrex has worked with surgeons and materials chemists to design and produce new biomaterials. These are used to make implants with composites that encourage bone growth. When the material comes into contact with bone a strong bond is formed, enhancing recovery. “Preclinical studies have been extremely encouraging” said John.


CASE STUDY: ACAL ENERGY INNOVATIONS IN ELECTROCHEMICAL SYSTEMS ACAL Energy Ltd is pioneering new fuel cells, with new materials at the heart of the company’s advances. Dr Andy Creeth, Chief Technology Officer, explains how working with the KCMC has led to new partnerships. ACAL Energy has designed the first lowcost, high-performance hydrogen fuel cell for automotive and stationary power markets. Conventional proton exchange membrane fuel cells suffer from a number of weaknesses. Most significantly, they are too expensive for mass production and the durability of components is poor. ACAL Energy turned to materials chemistry to find solutions to these problems by looking at the reaction between oxygen and electrodes. Supported by the Centre for Materials Discovery at The University of Liverpool, they developed a liquid phase oxygen catalyst, replacing costly platinum with FlowCath® technology – a polyoxometallate system – which also generates a higher redox potential. “We brought in expertise from a number of disciplines,” explained Andy. “Engineers helped us develop the system of pumps, physicists worked on the reactions occurring to generate the energy, and materials chemists were behind the new catalyst. The KCMC


helped us to make links with academics. "We are a small organisation, and were even smaller when we started. We needed to look at a broad set of materials that might be appropriate for developing our product, but we didn't have the analytical facilities to test and characterise our product, and couldn’t afford to buy the equipment. Nor could we commit, in the early days, to threeyear PhD projects, or Post-doc projects. It was therefore important to have flexible access to people and research equipment.” “The partnerships which the KCMC has helped us establish have been vital and we’re now working with Thomas Swan to scale up the process. Having the flexible, cost effective and responsive support from the KCMC has been invaluable, and they’ve not just put us in touch with academics – they also helped provide access to funding and a template for setting up the project and protecting IP.”

CASE STUDY: NXP SEMICONDUCTORS MATERIALS CHEMISTRY IN POWER ELECTRONICS NXP Semiconductors is working with new materials to make the next steps in power switching. Julian Humphreys, Vice President and General Manager PowerMOS Business, NXP Semiconductors and Director and Country Manager for NXP Semiconductors UK Ltd, describes the KCMC-led collaboration with the University of Liverpool.

which is more efficient and potentially cheaper for the customer” explained Julian. “However there are challenges - working with a novel material means we don’t yet know how it performs under different conditions. Reliability is extremely important in power electronics as we use materials in power switching devices to convert power efficiently without loss.”

Power electronics is big business and power switches are ubiquitous. With electronic devices shrinking in size there is much demand for dense but efficient power conversion. “Silicon has been the material of choice for over thirty years now” explained Julian, “but we’re reaching the limits of its capabilities. The industry needs something new and different.”

Through the KCMC, NXP Semiconductors have worked with materials chemists at the University of Liverpool. “We wanted to look at atomic layer deposition (ALD) but didn’t have the state-of-the-art equipment or technical capability. Using the labs at Liverpool worked really well – they’re a UK leader in ALD and have a range of instruments we were able to use. Without this collaboration we wouldn’t have been able to have performed these proof-of-concept experiments. The first results are looking really encouraging and we’re hoping to produce a commercial product which can deliver what the theory suggests the material is capable of.

NXP Semiconductors work with gallium nitride, GaN, which is proving to have fundamental capabilities that go far beyond those of silicon. For the same resistance, chips can be five times smaller or can handle a maximum voltage three times higher than is currently possible. Additionally GaN chips can operate at temperatures as high as 200°C. “Overall we’ve got something


QUOTES What are the major benefits that KCMC brings to you as a leading researcher and to your institution?

How has the KCMC helped you forge links with industry?

Mike Turner, University of Manchester

A combination of the Knowledge Transfer team and the Flexible Project Scientist for delivering projects has proved a strong offering to Industry. The ability to respond to short projects requests from Large Industry and SMEs has enabled us to grow a portfolio of repeat collaborators and longer term research projects. Through the KCMC and our SME collaborators we have also began to develop wider contacts in National and European Research Centres and are currently exploring research programmes that encompass both fundamental and applied research.

Academic institutions have a lot of expertise they can offer industry and industry has a lot of interesting projects academia would like to get involved in. But identifying industry partners and understanding industry needs and timescales can be daunting for academics. The KCMC help give a clear view of what is needed. They help academic institutions reach a large number of industry contacts and understand what drives the exploitation of materials chemistry and what industry needs, and so help academics clearly understand how they can support industry effectively.

Professor Paul Chalker, University of Liverpool

What do you see as the opportunities for advanced materials in power electronics?

Julian Humphreys, NXP Semiconductors There are huge opportunities for advanced materials in power electronics. Silicon has been used for over 30 years and we’ve reached the limits of its performance, whereas new materials like gallium nitride are proving to have fundamental capabilities that go far beyond those of silicon. However there are challenges - working with a novel material means we don’t yet know how it performs under different conditions. Reliability is extremely important in power electronics as we use materials in power switching devices to convert power efficiently without loss. Through the KCMC we’ve been working closely with academics at Liverpool University who have the equipment and expertise to perform experiments that help us test the capabilities of gallium nitride. The first results are looking really encouraging and we’re hoping to produce a commercial product which can deliver what the theory suggests the material is capable of.

The KCMC understands both sides and creates a dialogue that all parties feel comfortable with – breaking down the barriers that can exist between industry and academia and facilitating the delivery of a successful project for all involved.

Mike Turner, University of Manchester


Materials Research Exchange

Fire Retardant Technology 2014

The meeting, supported by the UK Magnetics Society, will examine possible solutions to the rare earth shortages, from mine to market and end of life recycling. Topics to be discussed include substitution of rare earths, design considerations for more efficient use, challenges for recycling and relevant Horizon 2020 calls.

This showcase of excellence in materials research and development is hosted by the Materials KTN and is an opportunity to highlight advances in materials R&D to industry, academia and government representatives. EPSRC and the Technology Strategy Board will be holding seminars and workshops, and talks will be given by industry leaders on the importance of materials research to their business. Date: 25th February, 8.30am – 5.30pm Location: Ricoh Arena, Coventry Contact: Further information:

The symposium and workshop will look at fire retardants and techniques for measuring fire retardant behaviour. Talks will include the fire retardant behaviour of composites, the effect of fire retardants on the physical properties of polymers and novel nanocomposite fire retardants.

Date: 21st February, 10am - 5pm Location: University of Birmingham Contact: Further information:


Date: 14th April – 16th April Location: University of Central Lancashire at Preston Contact: Further information:

How do you see the role of KCMC in advancing new materials innovation? Su Varma, NSG Pilkington It is very important that there is one centre of expertise that knows what is going on and what university expertise and businesses are doing in this fast moving field. Companies of all sizes and their materials research programmes are rarely openly advertised, so you could waste months Googling and never find your technical solution or potential collaborator to develop new products with. Having an organisation like the KCMC, which helps bring these parties together, dramatically speeds up the process of innovation.

Why is the research base an important part of materials chemistry innovation in the UK? Professor Matt Rosseinsky, University of Liverpool In order to create the next generation of sustainable products and technologies we need to constantly increase our fundamental understanding of the synthesis and the physical and chemical properties of new materials. Amongst the reasons for this are the needs to respond to new challenges facing society, and to replace scarce or hard-to-source raw materials that are key for important functions. This understanding is critical to the development of new advanced materials and the creation of new products. It is therefore important that those doing the fundamental scientific research understand the longer term challenges in design of materials and use this to help shape their research. It’s also important that designers understand the research being done so they can develop effective but realistic approaches to product development.

Su Varma, NSG Pilkington

What are the challenges in new materials innovation for your business, and how has the knowledge base helped ACAL Energy? Andy Creeth, ACAL Energy We are a small organisation, and were even smaller when we started. We needed to look at a broad set of materials that might be appropriate for developing our product, but we didn't have the analytical facilities and couldn’t afford to buy the equipment. Nor could we commit, in the early days, to threeyear PhD projects, or Post-doc projects. It was therefore important to have flexible access to people and research equipment. The KCMC understands what industry is about - it’s flexible, cost effective, responsive and has a fantastic science base. It helped us access the right expertise in different universities to help us test and characterise our product. They made the process of identifying the right materials much faster. They also helped provide access to funding and a template for setting up the project and protecting IP. We would not have understanding of the materials we work with without access to people and equipment through the KCMC.

Funding calls Smart - Round 6 SMEs working on R&D projects from which successful new products, processes and services could emerge that could stimulate UK economic growth are invited to apply for Smart grants. Grants are available for proof of market, proof of concept and development of prototype projects. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and the 2014 close dates are 30th January and 27th March. More information:

Technology-inspired innovation Advanced materials

Make it lighter, with less – Funding Call

Business-led projects of up to four months are invited to propose feasibility studies to stimulate innovation in four areas (biosciences, electronics, sensors and photonics, and information and communications technology). The Technology Strategy Board call is open to small and micro businesses in the UK working alone or in collaboration with one other small or micro company. Total project costs must not exceed £33,000 and preference will be given to preindustrial research, where a business partner is able to attract up to 75% public funding for their costs.

The Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are to invest up to £8.5m in collaborative R&D projects to develop advanced materials and manufacturing technologies which deliver lighter, better-performing and more material-efficient structures and products across a broad range of industrial sectors and global markets.

Competition opens: 27th January Briefing day: 10th February Deadline for applications: noon on 12th March More information:

This competition aims to strengthen the UK’s collective expertise in lightweighting and resource-efficient manufacturing, and to develop a more robust and competitive supply base. Read more…. Award: Up to £8.5m Opens: 03 Mar 2014 Registration closes: 09 Apr 2014 Closes: 16 Apr 2014 More Information: 11

KCMC newsletter January 2014  
KCMC newsletter January 2014