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Collaborative project wins prestigious industry award

Picture of a car tyreResearchers at WMG at the University of Warwick and the University of Victoria in Canada, have won the inaugural Synthos Rubber Circularity Award.

The international competition was launched to encourage cutting-edge ideas and solutions that will significantly improve the environmental performance of synthetic rubber-based tyre compounds, aligning with the sustainability objectives of the global automotive and tyre industries.

Synthos, a global leader in synthetic rubber, praised the two universities for their breakthrough technology research concept and global collaborative approach.

Professor of Nanocomposites at WMG, University of Warwick, Chaoying Wan explained: “Rubbers are ubiquitous materials in modern society and have played important roles across transportation; construction; oil and gas; biomedical devices; sports and electronics.

“As the key component to connect the vehicle to the road the performance of the tyre, including its rolling resistance, abrasion resistance and wet grip, directly determines the fuel efficiency, wear emission and safety.

“The emerging EVs and SUVs have raised increasing higher demands for performance that challenge the current technology. This new partnership, with Synthos Synthetic Rubber and the University of Victoria, will enable us to innovate rubber chemistry and develop functional rubber nanocomposites manufacturing technologies to address performance challenges. The new technology will also innovate traditional rubber systems to be actively recyclable.”

Matteo Marchisio, Vice President, Synthetic Rubber, stressed the importance of investing in research and development of sustainable rubber and tyre materials. “We are very proud of our diverse group of exceptional and talented scientists that make up the Synthos Rubber R&D team. Together with the University of Warwick and the University of Victoria, we see an exciting future in expanding our product development horizons. I firmly believe that by fostering innovation and collaborating with the brightest minds in scientific research, we move not only ourselves but also the entire value chain closer to our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Synthos Synthetic Rubber R&D Director Dr. Malte Wohlfahrt added, “We congratulate the University of Warwick and the University of Victoria for presenting an impressive research concept that we believe is the best fit for us. However, I also want to acknowledge the excellence of many other entries we received. The Synthos Rubber Circularity Award isn't just about crowning a winner; it's about advancing a culture of innovation. Therefore, we intend to collaborate with and invest in some of the other standout scientists and institutes we’ve had the honor to engage with. Overall, this award has sparked immense inspiration across our entire rubber business and given us much food for thought.”

The university collaborators will receive a three-year funding package to support a dedicated research team. They will also be provided with Synthos rubber materials and access to its state-of-the-art facilities. In addition, scientists from both institutions and Synthos will form a project team to work closely together and leverage the capabilities of all parties in a way that maximises the value of the collaboration to the tyre industry.

Find out more about Nanocomposites research at WMG here: Nanocomposites (

Millions awarded to University of Warwick to turbocharge UK’s battery production

A new cutting-edge battery materials scale-up facility, to support the development of battery supply chain in the UKThe University of Warwick has been awarded millions of pounds to boost British production of crucial materials for electric car batteries.

The £12 million in funding has been awarded by the Faraday Battery Challenge to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult at WMG at the University of Warwick, and CPI at NETPark (North East Technology Park), in County Durham.

It will be used to create the new Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre (AMBIC).

The Centre will bridge the gap between academic research and battery production and will focus on how batteries can be made to work more efficiently, as well as on equipment and skills development.

The Centre is needed to help the UK develop the electric vehicle batteries of the future, with reduced costs, more sustainable materials and improved performance.

Electric vehicle batteries make up around half the cost of a new electric vehicle, so reducing the cost of their production is crucial to lowering the cost of EVs to parity with combustion engine vehicles.

The funds are part of a wider investment strategy by the Faraday Battery Challenge and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to ramp up Britain’s battery production and infrastructure to boost the UK’s domestic battery supply chain.

Professor David Greenwood, CEO of the WMG High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centre said: “Cathode and anode active materials make up more than 50% of the valuea new cutting-edge battery materials scale-up facility, to support the development of battery supply chain in the UK of an automotive battery cell.

“For the UK to take its great academic research into production, and to capture the billions of pounds of resulting economic value in the UK, we need facilities which allow Britain to scale up and fully evaluate new materials. This investment, alongside the combined skillsets of CPI and WMG will provide that capability for the UK.”

The funds are specifically to help turbocharge the scale up of battery materials manufacturing within the UK. Only by producing batteries on a wider scale domestically can the EV industry make sure there is no bottleneck in supply and demand. By strengthening UK supply chains of battery materials, WMG is working with UKBIC and others to create a more resilient supply chain.

Thomas Bartlett, Challenge Deputy Director for the Faraday Battery Challenge, said: “AMBIC will bring together two emerging regions of battery innovation and manufacturing; the North-East and Midlands, under one facility to de-risk and accelerate battery materials scale up in the UK.

“Through the Faraday Battery Challenge’s £12m investment in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult we will establish a truly world-class facility to support the growth of a battery materials supply chain. With AMBIC and previous investments in cell, module and pack scale-up at UKBIC and R&D in the wider ecosystem, the UK will now be in a position to support businesses from “powder to pack” and from lab to commercial scales.”

Katherine Bennett, CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: “The next generation of battery technologies are critical to the green energy transition and a major opportunity for UK manufacturing. Realising that potential will require combining our collective expertise and this investment from the Faraday Battery Challenge is a brilliant example of that in action.

“In CPI and WMG, the Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre has two centres that are at the very forefront of chemical processing and battery cell development; together they can turbo charge battery materials scale-up.”

Frank Millar, Chief Executive Officer at CPI, said: “The Advanced Materials Batteries Industrialisation Centre will enhance the UK’s existing competitive advantages in batteries technology, and it stands to become a catalyst for the UK to address some of the biggest challenges we face as a nation. By giving innovators the opportunity to harness our expertise we can tackle issues such as climate change, while growing a sector that will be vital to the future of the economy.”

Mon 27 Nov 2023, 11:42 | Tags: HVM Catapult Partnerships Research Battery Scale-Up

WMG hosts Student Project Showcase

The Outreach Team at WMG, University of Warwick was pleased to welcome pupils from local schools to a special Student Project Showcase eventPicture of the Student Project Showcase event supported by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Over 100, year 10, students from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers in Coventry and Solihull were invited to the event held at the University of Warwick campus.

The year 10 pupils had a chance to see for themselves the remarkable engineering projects from Warwick Racing; Warwick Rail; Warwick Submarine; Warwick Moto and Warwick Robotics.

CyberWomen@Warwick students also took part. The group of female students strive to empower future talent, with a specific focus on women, in cyber security.

Caroline Cannon, Outreach Project Officer at WMG, who organised the Showcase, explained: “ With these types of events, and across all of our outreach activities, we work with our partners to inspire and empower the next generation of scientists and engineers to pursue careers in STEM in an attempt to close the engineering skills gap.”

Claire Morris, Associate Principal at the WMG Academy for Young Engineers in Solihull, said: “ I have heard nothing but great feedback from Year 10 students, and the staff involved. Thank you Caroline, to you and your team for organising this event, and thanks to the WMG team for making it happen.”

Caroline Cannon added: “ The Showcase was also a good experience for our new cohort of University of Warwick engineering students to build confidence talking about the various projects.”

A University of Warwick student and Warwick Rail team member said: “What I liked most about the event was seeing the students (from the Academies) getting stuck into the activities and thinking critically about the projects.”

WMG support a variety of undergraduate student projects with connections to industry partners. The selection of student-led projects shows the breadth and depth of skills that the students apply both individually and collaboratively as part of a team.

Each project is supported and assisted by PhD students, academics, technicians, and industry sponsors. Dave Cooper, Engineering Technician at WMGPicture shows students from the Warwick Racing team supporting Student Projects said: “Students that work on these projects have had the most amazing opportunities from placements, scholarships and jobs with companies such as McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Norton and Triumph.”

Students gain valuable practical and project management skills with each team member being assigned a role and area of responsibility, from engineering and technical lead to marketing and sales support. The projects develop students; teach time management and risk management; group working; and give practical hands-on experience.

WMG and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult provide some seed funding, but the individual teams are responsible for securing sponsors and raising funds. Feedback from employers suggests that these projects produce some of the most employable graduates in the market.

Find out more about the student projects here:

Tue 14 Nov 2023, 14:39 | Tags: HVM Catapult WMG Academy Education Outreach

WMG research helps develop new generation of graphene composites

Picture of the IINM at WMG, University of WarwickResearchers at WMG, University of Warwick’s, International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM) have been working with the team at Versarien plc on a new comprehensive portfolio of graphene and related nanomaterial based thermoplastic polymer compounds and masterbatches.

The new PolygreneTM compounds are expected to have potential commercial applications in areas as diverse as sports equipment, construction products, aerospace and automotive components.

Since 2018, Versarien subsidiary 2-DTech Ltd (2DT), Composites UK member, has funded PhD and postdoctoral researchers to understand the use of its Nanene™ graphene powders and other nanomaterials in thermoplastic systems. Dr David Reinoso-Arenas, the first 2DT funded PhD student, with support from the EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme, worked with Versarien’s Nanene™ materials in thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) systems and joined Versarien full-time last year as part of the team at Versarien’s subsidiary Cambridge Graphene Ltd.

Dr David Reinoso-Arenas, explained: “The new PolygreneTM thermoplastics portfolio is a culmination of my PhD research, some of which is due to be published in peer-reviewed journals. Since then we’ve been able to further develop and test these materials using different nanomaterial fillers and process conditions to fully optimise the resulting product performance. My PhD experience at the IINM and WMG was really enjoyable and enabled me to work closely with industry to ensure that the outputs of my research could be validated and have commercial viability.”

David’s PhD was performed under the supervision of Professor Tony McNally, whose team has an established capability in incorporating a wide range of nanomaterials into bulk polymer systems.

Professor Tony McNally, who leads the Nanocomposites Research Group at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “Working with Versarien over the last few years has given the IINM and WMG access to alternative graphene materials that have shown interesting phenomena when blended in these TPE systems. By tuning the nanofiller loading and optimising process conditions, David’s research showed that exceptional gains can be achieved in mechanical properties across the board (tensile strength, modulus, elongation at break, toughness and abrasion resistance) without compromising any properties. The addition of graphene also highlights improvements in polymer processing which may offer lower energy usage and, therefore, improving sustainability.”

Professor McNally continues to work with Versarien by providing a funded PhD position in 2D material based rubber systems, making use of the IINM’s new state of the art rubber processing and testing capabilities With support from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC), WMG has established a world class facility for the study of elastomers.

Dr Stephen Hodge, Versarien’s CEO, added: “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the IINM and WMG in rubber processing and understanding the interactions of our graphene and other 2D materials in these more complex systems, and hope to be able to demonstrate significant benefits that can impact upon real-world applications.”

Find out more and download technical datasheets here:

Find out more about WMG’s Nanocomposites research here:

Expert comment from Professor Siddartha Khastgir

Picture of Professor Siddartha KhastgirProfessor Siddartha Khastgir, Head of Verification and Validation at WMG, University of Warwick, comments on the Government’s plans to introduce the primary legislation for automated vehicles in the upcoming parliamentary session, as announced in the King’s Speech today (Tuesday 7th November).

Professor Khastgir said: ‘‘We welcome the Government’s decision to introduce the primary legislation on automated vehicles in the King’s Speech today. Following on from the discussions at the AI Safety Summit last week, this very first legislation on AI-powered technology is an important step for the UK to reach its target of rolling out automated cars in 2025.

“Regulation is the key enabler for the safe introduction of automated vehicles on UK roads. Not only does it provide regulatory certainty for the industry, but it is also key to setting high safety thresholds and gaining the public’s trust. We urge the Government to ensure that the regulatory framework is robust and underpinned by strong research outcomes. International and national self-driving standards should be built upon when creating this legislation.

“We also urge the Government to speed up the secondary legislation on automated vehicles to provide more information on the engineering requirements. The Government needs to ensure public views are incorporated into this legislative journey and take future users’ viewpoints into account. As a result, along with the legislation, a public awareness programme should be introduced to ensure an accurate understanding of the capabilities and limitations of this emerging technology. The Government needs to act quickly to be at the forefront of this technology.

“WMG will continue to fully support the Government and the eco-system to develop research and evidence-based self-driving regulation in the UK.’’

Find out more about WMG’s Verification and Validation research here:

Expert comment from Shravani Sharma

Shravani Sharma, Researcher at WMG at the University of Warwick, comments on the news that the Government is to cancel rail industry plans to close thePicture shows a train station in England vast majority of railway station ticket offices in England.

Shravani Sharma, whose recent work focused on the impact of travel on those with disabilities, said: “It’s a relief to hear of the U-turn of the ticket office closures. Through working with a range of disability charities, it’s clear that the removal of ticket offices would have a profound impact on the disabled. Working with CASBA (Citizen Advocacy South Birmingham Area), which supports people with learning difficulties, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Cerebral Palsy Midlands has shed light on the problems removing the ticket offices would have on the disabled.

“People with different visible and non-visible disabilities – including blindness, mobility problems, hearing loss, cerebral palsy and ADHD amongst others – would be severely impacted by the loss of ticket offices. People could be challenged by the technology, unable to distinguish train tickets from receipts, or simply need the guidance or assistance of a ticket officer.

“The U-turn will be a relief for so many people across the UK. When planning policies for the transport industry, people from a wide range of backgrounds, with different needs, must be properly listened to before making any big decisions. I would urge the government to consult both disability charities and the disabled in future policymaking.”


Tue 31 Oct 2023, 15:46 | Tags: HVM Catapult Research Human Factors

WMG research shapes the future of autonomous vehicles

WMG, at the University of Warwick, is part a unique £2 million consortium, entitled Sim4CAMSens.

Picture shows an example of simulated camera data with ground truth - provided by rFproThe Sim4CAMSens project, led by Claytex, is made up of a consortium of prominent industry partners, including AESIN, rFpro, Syselek, Oxford RF, National Physical Laboratory, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult and WMG.

Together the consortium will create a framework for sensor evaluation that incorporates modelling, simulation, and actual testing. In order to enable Automated Driving Systems (ADS) and sensor developers to speed their development, this project will involve the development of new models for sensors, noise and materials, and new test methodologies.

The role of WMG will be to understand which noise factors have the higher impact on the different perception sensors (i.e., camera, LiDAR, RADAR,) and how to correlate virtual testing to real-life testing to support the entire supply chain.

Professor Valentina Donzella, who leads the Intelligent Vehicles Sensors research at WMG explains: “The Sim4CAMSens project is an extremely exciting opportunity for WMG, to work with UK based world leading industrial and research partners, to speed up the development of sensors models and testing methodologies. These are key considerations for the future safe deployment of robust and reliable ADS. The success of this project will ensure the UK leads the way globally in this field."

Find out more about WMG’s Intelligent Vehicles Sensors research here:

Wed 25 Oct 2023, 15:38 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles HVM Catapult Partnerships Research

WMG with Solihull Council secure £300,000 for self-driving shuttle feasibility study

WMG at The University of Warwick, Solihull Council, National Highways, Transport for West Midlands, ZF, Aurrigo, Syselek and Liftango have successfully secured £300,000 to deliver a project looking into the feasibility of a self-driving shuttle service in the West Midlands.

The project will explore how a new automated transport link between Blythe Valley Business Park, near Shirley, and the new HS2 rail station in Solihull couldPicture shows an automated self-driving shuttle service operate in the future. The feasibility study will consider all aspects of the technology required in order to provide a safe and reliable automated public transport service between these important commercial centres. The proposed route would use the existing road network travelling along the M42 from Junction 4 and utilise the new Junction 5a currently under construction.

As a world-class research institution with leading capabilities in the verification and validation of safety assurance of self-driving technologies, WMG will apply its Operational Design Domain (ODD) based Safety Assurance research methodologies to the specific project challenges.  

This project is part of the wider Midlands Future Mobility (MFM) initiative, led by WMG. The MFM vision is to achieve zero road incidents, net-zero emissions and inclusive transport in the West Midlands. MFM enables stakeholders from across mobility to address the interlinked challenges of technology, policy, and behaviour to realise the vision.

Cllr Ken Hawkins, Solihull Council Cabinet Member for Environment & Infrastructure, said: “Connected Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology has the potential revolutionise the way we get around our towns, cities and rural areas. Working with our partners we are excited to be undertaking this latest project.

“We’ve already carried out a series of successful pathfinder trials here in Solihull, using our own automated shuttle, and have led the way in showing how it is possible to practically and safely incorporate automated vehicles into our existing transport infrastructure. We are now taking the next step and undertaking the vital feasibility work necessary in order to start thinking about more ambitious deployments and establishing new commercial public transport services.

“The outcomes from the study are likely to inform self-driving mobility challenges not just here in Solihull but nationwide.”

Jonathan Smith, Midlands Future Mobility Programme Manager said: "The business case for scaling new mobility solutions is complex. It involves a granular understanding of the use case, safety, users, operations, and infrastructure. This project brings together a group of diverse experts to apply state of the art research and knowledge to address this question. Of critical importance is that the outcomes of this feasibility will inform mobility business cases both in the Midlands and the UK as a whole."

More information about this project

Partners: Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council (Lead), Aurrigo, Syselek (Uk) Ltd, Liftango Ltd, ZF Services UK Limited, West Midlands Combined Authority, Highways England, University of Warwick

Grant awarded: £300,000 (£197,664 from Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility programme and balance is made up by the commercial partners).

Find out more about WMG’s Validation and Verification research here: Verification and Validation (


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WMG joins flagship electrification partnership

WMG at the University of Warwick, is part of a unique six-way partner collaborative research and development project led by Aston Martin.

Project ELEVATION has received £9m funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) to supplement the research and development of Aston Martin’s in-house bespoke luxury battery electric vehicle platform.

Awarded following a competitive process, the government grant will support the development of Aston Martin’s luxury BEV platform and enable a route to net-zero, including investment in vehicle light weighting, a digital toolchain and electrification training.

Project ELEVATION is led by Aston Martin, and supported by the Manufacturing Technology Centre; Expert Tooling & Automation; Creative Composites; Fuzzy Logic Studio and WMG. The project will address the technical challenges of developing a lightweight, 800V traction battery pack and twin front electric drive unit (EDU) into a modular BEV platform with a bandwidth from supercar to SUV.

Picture shows WMG's Materials Engineering Centre (MEC)WMG’s role will focus on supporting the design, manufacture and life-cycle analysis (LCA) of the modular structural composite battery enclosure. Researchers in the composites group based in WMG's Materials Engineering Centre (MEC) will conduct materials evaluation and investigate automated high-volume composite manufacturing of hybrid structures using existing tooling and equipment to demonstrate attributes on early learning components. This knowledge will then be transferred to Creative Composites for manufacture of the project demonstrator components and provide LCA of the composite structure into the Manufacturing Technology Centre's holistic LCA model.

Roberto Fedeli, Group Chief Technology Officer of Aston Martin, said: “The award of funding from the APC is another major boost to our electrification strategy and constant strive for innovation. Providing further resources to explore the possibilities of our bespoke BEV platform, it will help achieve our ambition to be an in-house BEV technology leader in the ultra-luxury, high-performance segment. We look forward to progressing this project with our collaborative partners and thank the APC for their incredible support.”

Ian Constance, APC Chief Executive, said: “The 23rd round of our collaborative R&D competition coincides with the APC’s 10th anniversary. We’ve seen over £1.4 billion of investment into automotive projects since the APC was set up, and I am proud of the impact that we have made here in the UK. This latest announcement includes a diverse set of OEMs and suppliers that demonstrate the strength of UK automotive. They will further add to our portfolio of innovative projects and continue to drive the UK to deliver on its net zero ambition.”

Find out more about WMG’s composite light-weighting research here

The University of Warwick celebrates 200 engineering internships in manufacturing to mark National Manufacturing Day

The University of Warwick is celebrating a new milestone for its engineering internship scheme, with over 200 internships now completed.

The milestone will be celebrated at a special event tomorrow on campus to mark the UK’s National Manufacturing Day – Thursday 28th September.

The internship scheme, which was established by the University’s WMG in 2013, places students in engineering internships at manufacturing businesses across the Midlands.

The scheme has been a hit with both students and businesses, with 75% of businesses experiencing increases in productivity and 95% saying they had noticed a positive cultural change thanks to the interns.

Most businesses who hired one intern through the scheme returned in the future, with around 70 interns now having been offered full time positions as a result of their internships.

The scheme was established to address the skills gap, with businesses needing more engineers than are available. Research suggests this gap is likely to get worse as demand increases, particularly for ‘green’ engineering roles.

Febry Wardhana, an Engineering Project Management postgraduate, recently completed his internship at Midtherm Flue Systems. They were so pleasedPicture shows Febry at his Midtherm Internship with his work Febry now works for the company permanently.

Michael Whale, Midtherm’s Training and Development Manager said: “Febry’s work has opened up a lot of new doors for us and he has done a great job, so much so that we offered him a full-time position as a process engineer.”

Other interns have gone into a range of high-profile roles in both small and large organisations. Warwick graduate Sam Woodcock who undertook an internship at Pashley Cycles is now working at Arup as a mechanical engineer. He said:

“My internship with WMG and Pashley helped me to become comfortable in not knowing the answer to every problem I faced, and therefore taught me how to persevere and overcome engineering challenges.”

Dr Mark Swift, Director of SME Engagement at WMG commented:

“Our internship programme is hugely important for us. It has supported over 200 manufacturers while tackling a range of important projects in their businesses and proves that young engineers can add real value. It is critical that we kick start the careers of our future engineers so that they can get onboard to deal with the manufacturing challenges of both today and tomorrow.”

Wed 27 Sep 2023, 17:22 | Tags: SME HVM Catapult Manufacturing Skills

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