Ceramic industry should bring carbon reducing cold sintering process out of labs and into manufacturing says new research
A new techno-economic analysis, by a team led by a researcher from WMG at the University of Warwick, shows that the energy intensive ceramic industry would gain both financial and environmental benefits if it moved to free the cold sintering process from languishing in labs to actual use in manufacturing everything from high tech to domestic ceramics.
The new research has just been published in the Journal of the European Ceramic Society in a paper entitled “Decarbonising ceramic manufacturing: A techno-economic analysis of energy efficient sintering technologies in the functional materials sector”.
The cold sintering process (CSP) combines heat, pressure and the use of water to significantly reduce energy use as it lowers the temperatures required to produce ceramics to around 300 degrees centigrade. This is far less than other process such as: Conventional sintering, Laser sintering, Fast-firing sintering, Liquid-phase sintering, and Flash sintering which require far more energy and need to reach temperatures ranging from 1400 to 3000 degrees centigrade depending on the process and materials under consideration.
However the small scale of laboratory-based CSP (typically creating 5 grams of ceramic at a time under lab conditions) has meant that manufacturers have chosen to continue to rely on other significantly higher temperature methods that can either already produce larger amounts or can rapidly manufacture a series of small scale high tech ceramics. The University of Warwick led team believed that manufacturers had not developed anything like a full understanding of the potential financial and environmental benefits of using CSP in manufacturing – particularly as the start-up costs of CSP are much lower than other processes.
The researchers looked at scenarios for the processing of 3 separate functional oxides used to produce ceramics: ZnO, PZT and BaTiO3. They compared cold sintering (CSP) with a range of other sintering techniques and looked at its return on investment. They found that in all three cases, even after 15 years of use, the low set up costs of CSP made it the most economically attractive sintering option, with lower capital costs and best return on investment as well as considerable energy and emission savings.
The researchers do recognise that the transition from laboratory to industry of CSP will require hugely different facilities and instrumentation as well as relevant property/performance validation to realise its full potential but the potential benefits of doing so are significant .
“The rising cost of energy and concerns about the environmental impact of manufacturing processes have necessitated the need for more efficient and sustainable manufacturing. The ceramic industry is an energy intensive industrial sector and consequently the potential to improve energy efficiency is huge”
“Our research is the first comprehensive techno-economic analysis of a number of sintering techniques, comparing them with the recently developed cold sintering process (CSP). We find that there are clear financial and environmental benefits if the ceramics industry was to take the cold sintering process out of labs and into commercial manufacturing”.
Note for Editors: The full research team on the paper were: Dr Taofeeq Ibn-Mohammed from WMG at The University of Warwick; C.A. Randall and S. Berbano both from the Materials Research Institute, The Pennsylvania State University; , K.B. Mustapha from the University of Nottingham; , J. Guo from Xi’an Jiaotong University and Pennsylvania State University; J. Walker from Norwegian University of Science and Technology; S.C.L. Koh, D. Wang, D.C. Sinclair, and I.M. Reaney, all from The University of Sheffield.
The continued success and growth of WMG, at the University of Warwick, now means that it is seeking to hire 120 new recruits over the next 100 days.
WMG is a leading centre for world class education and applied research in many sectors including: automotive, aerospace and defence, business, construction, energy and utilities, IT, security and rail. They have recently won funding for several major research projects and partnerships that builds on our large array of collaborations with new and established partners.
As we continue to grow and expand we are seeking individuals who thrive on a challenge and who aren’t afraid to defy conventional thinking. We are investing in, and creating, several new world-leading facilities to support these new projects. So we also need to invest in more talented people to take these projects forward and we will intend to recruit 120 of those people in the next 100 days.”
Strategic Partnership between WMG and Thermotec Plastics Leads to New Client Offering Worth £1.5 Million
Birmingham based Thermotec Plastics Ltd and WMG at the University of Warwick have worked on a project together to develop a new product offering for the automotive and aerospace markets that is worth £1.5 million in new turnover for the business.
Thermotec Plastics, an innovative and bespoke supplier of engineered solutions in vacuum forming and polyurethane mouldings created a new composite material with impressive lightweight properties and WMG undertook a testing programme that validated the product for market.
The collaboration developed when David Rose, managing director of Thermotec was asked for performance related data for the new composite material by a key automotive client. Thermotec was unable to produce the data in-house as the testing equipment required was investment prohibitive. He therefore approached WMG’s SME Team at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation who were able to undertake the testing through their funded Innovation Programme for West Midlands SMEs.
The 2nd annual WMG Doctoral Research and Innovation Conference, entitled ‘Innovation through Collaboration’, is an excellent opportunity to showcase research from both academia and industry across themes in design, materials, manufacturing, systems and business transformation.
Organised by doctoral students, the conference will be held in the International Digital Laboratory on 30th June - 1st July, with an evening social event on the 30th.
Papers and poster presentations will take place across a wide variety of topics and awards will be presented in each theme.
Abstracts should be submitted online by 31st March.
WMG, at the University of Warwick, have announced that Professor Claire Davis and Professor Barbara Shollock have been appointed as two new Tata Steel Chairs for research into Thermo-mechanical Processing and Advanced Characterisation and Coatings.
These appointments strengthen the rapidly developing relationship between WMG, the University and Tata Steel. They confirm the strong commitment of Tata Steel to research and manufacturing in the UK.
Building on the initial Tata Steel / Royal Academy of Engineering Chair of Professor Sridhar Seetharaman, the company and the University have been working closely to develop an exciting strategic partnership, with research, research infrastructure, education and exploitation opportunities.
Professor Sridhar Seetharaman has been awarded the best paper award at the IAS (Argentinian Iron and Steel Institute) annual Steel Conference in Argentina. The prestigious conference on Ironmaking, Steelmaking, Rolling and Steel Products is the major steel conference in South America. The conference took place from 5-7 November 2013 at Rozario, Argentina.
Professor Seetharaman is the Tata Steel / Royal Academy of Engineering Professor for Low Carbon Materials Technologies at WMG. He leads WMG's research in Materials Processing, with a focus on Iron and Steel Manufacturing.
Professor Seetharaman's paper was entitled ‘Oxidation and embrittlement in grain boundaries induced by Cu in a low carbon steel with Cr and 0.2% Cu under different thermal and atmospheric conditions’. The paper was produced by Professor Seetharaman along with his PhD student Erica Sampson (Carnegie Mellon University) and J.A. Mendez and C. Cicutti of Tenaris Siderca in Argentina.
Bank card and other plastic product manufacturers will have access to a powerful new technology that will help the fight against counterfeiting of their products and which can provide an additional security feature for credit cards, thanks to new technology devised by researchers at WMG at the University of Warwick.
The technology will allow manufacturers to rapidly embed individual, unique and hidden individual pieces of data in each item made in large production runs of plastic products or credit cards as they are being created by injection moulding.
The researchers, led by WMG Professor Gordon Smith at the University of Warwick have just applied for patents to protect the new technology which uses the influence of a particular external force that exploits the polarity of particles and fluids, to very selectively influence those particles or a polymer fluid as a product is formed by injection moulding.
MMT is produced jointly by two societies, The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society and ASM International. It includes three editions of its journals, Journal A (Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science), Journal B (Process Metallurgy) and the soon-to-be-launched Journal E (Energy Materials). Professor Seetharaman will be serving as Editor of all three editions from July 2013.
Professor Seetharaman holds the Royal Academy of Engineering / Tata Steel Research Chair in Low Carbon Materials Technologies at WMG where he leads research on physico-chemical aspects of iron and steel manufacturing and usage with an emphasis on energy efficiency, low carbon and reduction of emissions.
The new Automotive Composites Research Centre will provide local industry with hands-on technical expertise and equipment to develop its manufacturing capability for polymeric composites.
The requirement for lightweight structures will soon become the industry standard as automotive manufacturers seek to reduce emissions over the life-time of their vehicles.
By tapping into these new opportunities, the centre will help create jobs and growth in the West Midlands’ advanced manufacturing and engineering sector.
WMG's Professor Sridhar Seetharaman has been selected as the recipient of the Jerry Silver Award for Best Paper 2013 by the Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AIST) Metallurgy Technology Division. The award is for Professor Seetharaman's work entitled 'Effect of Silicon on Hot Shortness'.
The Jerry Silver Award is presented to the author of a process metallurgy or product applications technical paper judged to be the best of class by the AIST, where one of the authors is a student.
Professor Seetharaman has recently joined WMG as the RAEng / Tata Steel Research Chair in Low Carbon Materials Technologies.
The award will be presented to Professor Seetharaman during the AIST Metallurgy, Processing, Products and Applications Technology Committee Meeting in Canada, later this year.