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UK steel industry and EV innovation to receive research boost

A £30 million research and innovation investment in British manufacturing aims to help the UK seize new opportunities in areas including steel production and transport infrastructure. This is according to the EPSRC.

This investment is part of a programme to transform the UK steel industry.  

The new research hubs will link major industry players including Tata Steel, Siemens, and Rolls-Royce to world-class research teams. They will develop new practices to ensure these established manufacturing sectors can meet evolving industry needs, seize new opportunities and tackle key issues such as sustainability and productivity.

Two of the new hubs will focus on steel production and electrical machines, and will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Their addition takes the total number of Manufacturing Hubs to 13 across the UK, building comprehensive research support for the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Industry Minister Richard Harrington said: “This investment brings together world-class researchers and leading manufacturing firms to help revolutionise how key industries like steel operate in the future.

“These developments will help us build a smarter, greener and more efficient manufacturing sector in the UK which is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy to harness the opportunities of clean growth creating more high-skilled jobs.

“We are determined to ensure the UK sets the global best standard for making our energy intensive industries competitive in the new clean economy.”

Professor Lynn Gladden, EPSRC’s executive chair, said: “There’s a real need to mesh fundamental research with our manufacturing industries. By doing so we can ensure that research is relevant to industrial need but also that UK businesses can be in touch with the latest developments in their fields. These three new Manufacturing Hubs cover industries that are important to the UK’s future capacity to make products sustainably and improve the country’s prosperity. ”

The Sustain Manufacturing Hub will be led by Professor David Worsley at Swansea University. It has been co-created by the five major UK steel producers (Tata, Liberty, British Steel, Celsa, and Sheffield Forgemasters) and the three principal Universities that have expertise in this area (Swansea, Warwick and Sheffield).

It aims to provide academic leadership in steel innovation, influence policy, work with existing hubs and speed the implementation of research findings through to manufacture.

The ambition is to radically transform the carbon intensity of the process of producing the world’s most widely used advanced material and at the same time tailor its application to emerging manufacturing opportunities for electrification of transport, manufactured buildings and sustainable packaging.

It will also look to embed the industry in communities essentially as energy hubs – an aspiration which is clearly applicable to other sectors such as glass, petrochemicals and cement.

Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub will be led by Professor Geraint Jewell at the University of Sheffield, with spokes at Newcastle University and the University of Strathclyde,

This Hub aims to put UK manufacturing at the forefront of the electrification revolution. The Hub will address key manufacturing challenges in the production of high integrity and high value electrical machines for the aerospace, energy, high value automotive and premium consumer sectors. Partners that have helped create this hub include Rolls-Royce, Siemens, GKN, Dyson, Protean Electric and Hoganas.

Through delivering world-class manufacturing research and innovation, the hub will assist UK manufacturing to capture significant value in the electrical machine supply chain, improve UK industrial productivity and deliver the environmental benefits and cleaner growth at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy.