The materials group works with a wide range of materials from high performance composites, membranes, nanocomposites, lightweight metals and sustainable materials to biomedical materials. This research is supported with excellent facilities that allow the group to meet industrial needs as well as to perform both fundamental and applied research.

The group's principal aim aim is to meet industrial needs with timely solutions and address bottlenecks to niche materials applications.

Current study and development focuses on novel materials using different techniques such as embedded sensory-systems, nanoreinforcements or microcellular foaming in order to reduce weight and enhance performance and durability.

In addition clients are supported with structural analysis and design optimisation techniques for lightweight constructions to reduce material requirements and different joining techniques. This way best performance can be ensured while taking advantage of the properties of the new materials.

Key areas of research are:

Advanced Materials and Nanomaterials

Lightweight materials research is focused on structural materials improvements to meet lightweight design and functional requirements during the product life cycle.

Extensive experience of the preparation and performance of material tests enables the group to offer the best advice on testing methods and suitable characterisation techniques.  A variety of tests for the static characterisation of metals, composites, and plastic materials can be performed. They include, amongst other things, tensile testing, compression testing, bending testing and shear testing.

 Advanced Materials and Nanomaterials 3 Advanced Materials and Nanomaterials 1

Advanced Materials and Nanomaterials 2 Advanced Materials and Nanomaterials 4

Structural integrity

Structural integrity is concerned with determining the performance, durability and safety of equipment that is subjected to a range of operating conditions during use.

The consequences of structural integrity failure can be tragic in terms of loss of life and financially crippling due to loss of production and revenue. This work involves a combination of strategies, including sensors embedded systems that monitor, assess and evaluate structural integrity. It therefore aims at addressing design problems, optimisation strategy and developing customised solutions to allow clients (mainly in the transport and energy sectors) to confidently assess the integrity and performance of structures, plants, components and equipment.

Structural integrity 2

 

Structural integrity 1

Impact and corrosion failures


Structural integrity 3

Predicting Hydrostatic Collapse of Deepwater Pipelines

Modelling and simulations

Finite element, numerical methods and molecular dynamics are developed and combined to serve applications’ demand including multi-physics problems.

Model materials and structures are tested using numerical codes and finite element analysis (FEA) tools. The research aims to quantify structural dynamic behaviour, study failure and establish the structure-property relationship. The group has leading expertise in lightweight structures, particularly subject to impact, blast, crash, vibration and fatigue loadings. There is also  extensive experience in modelling sensors, micro/nano devices such as miniature energy harvesting devices and accelerometers.

Modelling and Simulations

Membranes

Membrane technology is a scientific approach for the transport of substances with the help of some porous or permeable membranes.

In general, mechanical separation processes for separating gaseous or liquid streams use membrane technology. Some application can include production of drinking water by reverse osmosis and filtrations in the food industry or recovery of organic vapors in petrochemical productions.

Over years the group has refined membrane technology and processing to develop advanced permeable membranes such as ceramic and polymer membranes. Today these membranes are widely used in industrial processes for separating gaseous or liquid streams.

Cross-section of a porous membrane

Cross-section of a porous membrane


Group members have research interests in the fields of:

  • Materials testing
  • Surface analysis
  • Composites reinforcement  and nanomaterials
  • Green composites
  • Nanomaterials  and Nanocomposites
  • Smart materials  for condition monitoring
  • Sensors technology and embedded systems
  • Process and membrane technology
  • Coatings and thin films
  • Biomaterials 

Modelling and simulations

  • Stress analysis
  • Fluid-structural optimisation
  • Multi-objective optimisation
  • Structural dynamic behaviour
  • Multiscale modelling  and simulations including Finite element analysis (FEA),  Representative Volume Element (RVE) and molecular dynamic (MD)


Current Research Projects:

  • Fracture toughness of multi-filler thermoplastic nanocomposites
  • Simulation of the release of nanomaterials from consumer products for environmental exposure assessment
  • Fibre-reinforced hybrid vehicle structures  made of biocomposite materials
  • Chemical adsorption and desorption characteristics of natural and industrial materials for oil and gas application
  • Real time monitoring and control of oil and gas production
  • Composite bond adhesive strengths for oil and gas processing applications
  • Minimally-invasive blood glucose monitoring system
  • Optical fibre based heavy metal ion sensor for monitoring crude oil contaminated wastewater
  • Advanced membrane design for improved carbon capture
  • Modelling formation damage induced by propagation of single-phase non-newtonian polymer solution in porous media


Recent Research Projects:

  • EPSRC Project (EP/L505171/1) Carbon/biocomposite hybrid vehicle structures for reduced weight, cost and environmental impact (CARBIO). £118,445, Sept 2013- Aug 2015. PI Dr J Njuguna
  • EC E-Life+11 ENV/ES/596. Simulation of the release of nanomaterials from consumer products for environmental exposure assessment (SIRENA), total value € 1,140,942 (Awarded €385,375), Jan 2013 – Dec 2015. PI Dr J Njuguna, Co-I Dr S Sachse
  • EC FP7 Project (Project No.:309802) Continuous, highly precise, metal-free polymerisation of PLA using alternative energies for reactive extrusion (InnoREX), €273,566, Dec 2012 – Nov 2016. PI Dr J Njuguna, Co-I Dr S Sachse
  • EPSRC DTA Award PhD. Thermo-mechanical properties of polyamide nanocomposites for automotive applications. (EPSRC and EATON), £200,000 Apr 2012 - Mar 2015. PI Dr J Njuguna
  • Rolls Royce/ EC FP7 Project No.: 228536-2, PhD Project. Multiscale modelling of composites fracture. 2011-2014. PI Dr J Njuguna, Co-I Dr H Zhu
  • EC FP7 Project No. 265838. Development of new light high-performance environmentally benign composites made of bio-materials and bio-resins for electric car application (ECOSHELL); total value €4,129, 558 (Awarded €702,040), Jan 2010 - Sept 2013.  PI Dr J Njuguna
  • EC FP7 Project No.: 228536-2. Nanomaterials related environmental pollution and health hazards throughout their life cycle (NEPHH), total value €3,186,530 (Awarded €728,368) Sept 2009 – Aug 2011. PI Dr J Njuguna, Co-I Dr H Zhu
  • EPSRC Case Award PhD. Real-time structural health monitoring nanosensing device, (EPSRC, EM Motorsport and East of England Development Agency, EEDA); £84,500, Nov 2009- Jan 2013. PI Dr J Njuguna
  • EPSRC Case Award PhD. Impact behaviour in thermoplastic automotive engine components, (EPSRC and EATON) EPSRC; £163,000, July 2007- Feb 2011. PI Dr J Njuguna
  • EPSRC Project (EPSRC/IMRC-137). Design and manufacturing of a novel energy harvesting device for self-powered sensors. £63, 500. Oct. 2008 - Nov. 2009. PI Prof. M Zhu, Co-I Dr J Njuguna

Materials Group Research Staff

Materials Research Group Staff