The next generation of materials to meet the needs of UK manufacturing are set to be developed by a new ‘state of the art’ research centre that was officially opened last week. The Royce Discovery Centre, part of the Henry Royce Institute
at the University of Sheffield
, will give UK manufacturers across all sectors access to the expertise and facilities needed to discover new materials and develop more resource-efficient processes to meet their business needs.
Based in a new building in the heart of the university’s world-renowned Faculty of Engineering, the centre will enable manufacturers to leverage Sheffield’s R&D capabilities to develop innovative materials for new technologies and test them before investing further capital and implementing them into their operations. The facility will address a gap in UK innovation by reducing both the cost and timescale of translating discoveries of advanced materials to new products and technologies.
Research at the Royce Discovery Centre is already using new materials to develop the next generation of medical implants, improve the lightweight structures needed for electric vehicle (EV) parts, develop the components needed to store green hydrogen energy and evolve nuclear fusion reactors.
The facility will become a leading national centre for advanced metals processing in the UK and can help manufacturers of all sizes nationally and throughout the South Yorkshire region. It also will train the next generation of materials scientists at the University of Sheffield who are critical to ensuring the UK’s long-term innovation in materials discovery and closing the skills gap.
Professor Martin Jackson, Professor of Advanced Metals Processing at the University of Sheffield and research lead at the new Royce Discovery Centre, said: “We are excited to announce the launch of our new ‘state of the art’ research centre, the Royce Discovery Centre. Our new facility will help accelerate university and industry ideas through to an industry production scale, in order to meet global challenges.
“We are already assisting in the development of new UK supply chains in sectors ranging from space components to electric car parts from recycled aerospace waste. The unique facilities will also accelerate the development of multi-material and functionality-graded components in emerging sectors, enabling the UK to pioneer next generation advanced metals processing technologies.”
With the centre based in Sheffield, manufacturers can work with the Royce Discovery Centre on early-stage research in materials discovery and processing, then collaborate with the Royce Translational Centre at the University of Sheffield Innovation District to commercialise them. Sustainable society
Professor David Knowles, chief executive officer of the Henry Royce Institute, said: “The University of Sheffield is a Royce founding partner, with world-leading prowess in materials science and metallurgy. The research being undertaken at its new Royce Discovery Centre further supports Royce’s vision to develop advanced materials for a sustainable society.
“The Discovery Centre will transform aspects of Royce’s research capabilities in the Advanced Metals Processing research area. It will build on the UK’s strength in metals processing and provide academia and industry with the advanced facilities and technical support they need to deliver both innovative processing technologies and novel alloy development.”
The Royce Discovery Centre is based in a new building named after Harry Brearley, the man who discovered stainless steel, and has the very latest in world-class equipment provided by the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, alongside specialist equipment already based at the University in its Department of Materials Science and Engineering — one of the UK’s most renowned teaching and research centres in materials science.
Professor Serena Cussen, Head of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said: “The city of Sheffield was the birthplace of stainless steel, so it’s fitting that with the new Royce Discovery Centre the city will play a huge role in the future of metals and next generation of sustainable materials.
“Discovering new materials is vital to so many industries throughout the UK as we look to become more sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint. Materials Science and Engineering is at the heart of new low-carbon technologies and the future energy systems that our ambition of reaching net zero relies on. I am delighted to see this facility open at the University and am excited for the pivotal role it will play in guiding us to ‘net zero’.”
For students, the Royce Discovery Centre has already helped to enhance an industrial training programme in aerospace materials that the University of Sheffield runs in collaboration with Rolls-Royce. The programme gives students experience of industrial-relevant projects while giving Rolls-Royce the opportunity to investigate questions around materials and materials discovery.
Yann Devlin, a fourth-year aerospace engineering student at the University of Sheffield, said: “The industrial training programme has allowed me to use the knowledge I have gained throughout university to tackle a real-world project. The Royce Discovery Centre has enabled us to produce materials samples that we would have never been able to produce and work on cutting-edge material that will have real world applications.”