Leading Edge issue 33 Spring 2016

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Brunel University Leading Edge #33 - Spring 2016

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  • 1edgeIssue #33Spring 2016

    The Hub is Brunels latest addition to its portfolio of activities aiming to address the full innovation value chain in the area of metal casting. The Hub has its fundamental research centred on the understanding of heterogeneous nucleation at the atomic level and the development of generic techniques for nucleation control in solidification processing of recycled alloys (discovery/understanding). Such scientific understanding and generic techniques will then be applied to the development of advanced materials and processing technologies at the laboratory scale (adaption/integration). The developed recycling-friendly materials and sustainable processing technologies will feed into AMCC I and AMCC II (see Leading Edge Summer 2016) for scaling-up and validation (adaptation). Industrial demonstration (validation) and industrial implementation (deployment) will be carried out in close collaboration with industrial partners. The Hubs research programme consists of 9 platform research activities (PFRAs) and 9 Grand Challenge research activities (GCRAs), each of which is effectively a subproject. These PFRAs and GCRAs form the starting point of the Hubs research, with the possibility of introducing new ones as appropriate either as replacements or as completely new projects representing a new research direction to deliver more effectively the Hubs objectives.

    One of the current barriers to closed loop recycling is the number of different grades of metallic materials in commercial use today, often differing only slightly in their chemical composition. Unnecessary alloying elements create products that are difficult, or impossible, to recycle. Creating materials that have been specifically designed with recycling in mind will significantly improve recycling rates. Currently the UK is a net exporter of aluminium scrap to China and India, and this is a loss of an extremely valuable resource. The Hubs research programme will demonstrate that aluminium scrap is an energy bank and viable source for the manufacture of high integrity automotive structures and chassis and powertrain components. This will transform the industry particularly if there is strong integration with the vehicle dismantlers. Whilst the primary focus of the first phase of the Hub is the automotive sector, the scientific principles developed for closed loop recycling and the advanced processing technologies are equally applicable to aerospace,

    rail, marine, electronics and other engineering sectors, and new collaborators will be sought in these areas.

    The overall approach to the research to be undertaken will be to use secondary aluminium, with its inclusions and impurities, as a starting material. A process will be developed which will deliver an aluminium melt with minimised inclusions, impurities and hydrogen content. Then, rather than further refining to remove residual impurities, research will focus on minimising the harmful effects of those impurities and instead use them in a positive way. The ultimate aim will be to develop recycling friendly aluminium alloys and sustainable solidification processing technologies to facilitate closed-loop recycling.

    The ultimate vision of the Future LiME Hub is full metal circulation. The planned research programme spans fundamental nucleation research, materials development, technology innovation and industrial applications. Realisation of full metal circulation in the context of a circular economy is a global challenge and requires the joint efforts of academia, industry, government and society as a whole. The Hub will take a leadership role on behalf of UK plc and will develop an extensive outreach programme to engage all potential stakeholders to deliver the widest impact.

    Further funding brings the vision of full metal circulation a step closer

    BCAST Director Professor Zhongyun Fan has successfully applied for a further 10m of EPSRC funding to develop the Future Liquid Metal Engineering Hub (The Future LiME Hub). Funding for this 60m initiative will comprise 5m from participating universities and 45m from the public sector in addition to the EPSRC award.

    Inside the mind of a piano pg 4

    Profile of Professor Juliette Legler pg 9

    Old school gaming pg 11

    Pace system update pg 12

    The ultimate vision of the Future LiME Hub is full metal circulation. The planned research programme spans fundamental nucleation research, materials development, technology innovation and industrial applications.

  • 2RESEARCHnews

    2

    Celebrating Brunel research

    To mark the first year of the new University structure with three Research Institutes (Materials and Manufacturing, Energy Futures, and Environment, Health and Societies), an inaugural annual research conference was held at the University on Tuesday 6 October. Brunels world class research has now been organised into 15 themes working on addressing global challenges through the adoption of inter-disciplinary methodologies.

    The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julia Buckingham, introduced the event alongside the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Professor Geoff Rodgers. Julia welcomed a delegation from two Kenyan universities who visited Brunel that day to learn more about the work of the institutes and form connections.

    She also highlighted the key pieces of research from the past year, including HEFCE funding for Professor Fan, the Horizon 2020 programme, a grant awarded to Christina Victor for culture and sport research, and the research visa scheme, where researchers are encouraged to communicate the details of their research with a variety of associates that they encounter through conferences and networking events.

    Following on from this, Julia emphasised the importance of quality of research rather than quantity. Geoff agreed and noted the need for the institutes to consider how their research could potentially work in the future in conjunction with their close proximity to each other, holding an advantage over other universities with institutes in various locations.

    For the rest of the day, seminars with panels of experts were held for each of the three institutes covering subjects including liquid metal engineering and micro-nano manufacturing, renewable energy and solar thermal energy, and ageing studies and biomedical engineering.

    A research poster display was held over lunchtime which presented the institute achievements and work over the past year, including:

    Materials and Manufacturing design for sustainable building with flax and hemp, structural integrity, materials characterisation and processing.

    Energy Futures sustainable food systems which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, addressing demand and environmental impact in buildings, cities and communities by improving quality of life and strengthening urban economies through sustainable planning.

    Environment, Health and Societies impacts and rapid changes in the sea level, optimisation 3D co-cultures of primary breast cells and serial sequencing of evolving populations.

    It is expected that this event will become an annual activity to further cement the working relationship between the institutes. Find out more about the research institutes and their themes through our website - http://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-themes

    Welcome to Leading Edge

    Welcome to the 32nd edition of Leading Edge. Since the last issue the HE Green Paper, the Nurse Review and the Comprehensive Spending Review have all been published. Broadly, these have left funding for science and research unaffected, and have reaffirmed a commitment to the dual support system. The principle changes affecting research are the amalgamation of the research councils into a single body, Research UK. At this stage it isnt clear which body will take responsibility for implementing the next Research Excellence Framework, but nevertheless the government has committed to hold the next peer reviewed REF before 2021. In addition, Innovate UK are moving from a system of grants for its industrial partners to one of loans.

    In this issue a number of successes are highlighted. In particular congratulations are again due to Professor Fan and his team in BCAST who have secured 10M of funding for an EPSRC Manufacturing Hub in Future Liquid Metal Engineering. The core Hub activities will be based here at Brunel supported by the complementary expertise of academic spokes at Oxford, Leeds, Manchester and Imperial College London. Industrial partners have committed to invest a further 45M in the research programme. This firmly establishes BCAST as a major force in UK engineering research a terrific achievement.

    There is also a feature on an agreement we have signed with FAPESP, the Brazilian funder of research in Sao Paolo state. We are one of a small group of research intensive institutions in the UK to agree to match fund grants awarded by FAPESP to catalyse research collaborations between the UK and Brazil. Further details can be found in the article.

    As we continue to improve our research culture, we will receive further external recognition of our progress.

    With best wishes to you all

    Professor Geoff Rodgers Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

    Leading Edge focuses on research at Brunel University London.

    For details on how to submit articles please contact Vic Gill in the Research Support and Development Office on ext 67398 or email vic.gill@brunel.ac.uk

    Editor: Content and production: Vic Gill, RSDO

    University Photographer: Sally Trussler, Media Services

    Printed by: Brunel University Press

    When you have finished with this newsletter please recycle it.

    ContentsFuture Liquid Metal Engineering Hub............ 1

    Leading Edge Editorial ....................................... 2

    Celebrating Brunel research ............................ 2

    Catalyst Fund Award Results ........................... 3

    Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIPs) ................... 4

    EPSRC funding success: DASCIP ................... 4

    Royal Academy of Engineering Grant .......... 4

    Inside the mind of a piano ................................ 4

    Performance Research Seminar Series ......... 5

    Three Minute Thesis ............................................ 5

    Staging the Henrician Court ............................. 5

    Seeds of the Future: Somali Programme ..... 5

    Brunel-Nazarbayev Collaboration................... 6

    MRC highlight HERGs research....................... 6

    Third World Approaches to International Law ............................................ 6

    Landmark research partnership ..................... 7

    Brunel University signs MoU ............................ 8

    New research staff profiles .............................. 9

    Contracts Awarded Quarter 1 .......................... 10

    Contracts Awarded Quarter 4 ........................ 11

    Old School Gaming: Going back to basic .... 11

    Change in HEFCE REF eligibility ........................12

    PACE System Update ...............................................12

  • 3RESEARCHnews

    3

    The Research Institute Directors met recently to review and award the latest cohort of applications for the Research Catalyst Fund. There were 6 submissions for the Interdisciplinary (INTER) Awards, received from members across the three Institutes, with two projects being awarded funding in this round:

    Farnaz Nickpour was chosen to receive funding for her pump-priming interdisciplinary research project on Wellbeing care maps. The design led project is the second Interdisciplinary Research Award to be granted funding by the Institutes since the launch of the scheme in April 2015. The collaborators include Elizabeth McKay, Pamela Abbott, Raffaella Valsecchi and Andreas Dimopoulos, thereby developing a research team with members from a wide range of backgrounds. The funds will be used to carry out an exploratory project which will firstly survey service users and then build on the survey findings with theme-based creative workshops. From this the investigators will formulate early stage Wellbeing Care Map concepts, with the intention of using this preliminary data to formulate proposals for funding externally.

    The third INTER award was to Jennifer Ryan, in collaboration with Christina Victor, Neil OConnell, Kimberley Smith, Nana Anokye and Silvia Liverani. The project aims to investigate the prevalence of age- and lifestyle-related chronic disease and causes of mortality amongst adults with cerebral palsy in the UK compared to the general population. A retrospective cohort study will be conducted using data from the CPRD, a governmental, not-for-profit research service that provides anonymised patient data to public health researchers. The funds will enable access to CPRD Gold data sets of up to 50,000 patients, which will not only benefit this project but will have wide usage and benefit across the Institute.

    A further six awards were made in the IDEA category which supports the development of novel ideas that have the potential to kick start a new area of research activity.

    The first award in this round is for a feasibility study conducted by Yan Huang to integrate casting and extrusion into a single process. The proposed new technology has the potential to reduce energy usage and reduce the scrap rate, thereby offering a more sustainable approach for the production of light alloy components for the automotive industry.

    The second IDEA award in this round is a collaboration between Jennifer Ryan and Nana Anokye to determine the feasibility of conducting an economic evaluation of resistance training for adolescents with Cerebral Palsy. The investigators are currently undertaking a trial to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of the intervention, but it does not include an evaluation of cost-effectiveness, which is an increasingly important measure used by research funders and policy makers. If an economic evaluation of the resistance training intervention proves feasible, the investigators will incorporate data collection on the economic indicators into the current trial and seek further funding for analysis of the data collected.

    The third award is to Meriel Norris and Jennifer Ryan who propose to examine the associations between activity capacity, capability, performance and participation in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in order to improve specificity of future interventions. People with physical disabilities represent a growing ageing population and people with MS experience similar age-related declines in function and participation as the general ageing population albeit at a younger age. Interventions to maintain function and participation are urgently required for adults with MS to promote lifelong healthy ageing. The Healthy Ageing Theme focuses on interventions that improve the quality of life and health of older people and as such this programme of research is in line with the aim of the Theme.

    The fourth award is a social science collaboration related to energy and buildings, led by Peter Wilkin, from the Institute of Energy Futu...