New steel and metal research institute for Swansea University

Article by Amanda Doyle

Swansea University
Bimlendra Jha, CEO of Tata Steel UK, Richard Davies, vice-chancellor of Swansea University, and Carwyn Jones, first minister of Wales at the launch of the new research institute at Swansea University

The UK’s Swansea University, in collaboration with Tata Steel, has opened a new Steel and Metal Institute (SaMI).

The Institute was opened on 8 February by first minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, and the opening event was also attended by Bimlendra Jha, Tata Steel UK’s CEO, and Richard Davies, Swansea University’s vice-chancellor. Representatives were also present from industry, academia, SMEs, community union, government, and SaMI staff.

SaMI represents a partnership between Swansea University and Tata Steel. The university will provide research and innovation services to Tata, which in return has supplied a range of research equipment to the university. Tata will be also be providing 45 industry R&D staff to work alongside 20 new university research staff. SaMI will have a combination of metallurgists, product engineers, data scientists, researchers, and technicians working on a range of new materials such as next-generation steels for hybrid and electric cars. Tata has also committed annual funding to contribute to the running costs of the Institute.

The centre will collaborate with industry and other research centres worldwide with the goal of creating a steel and metals industry fit for the 21st century. It will enable companies to make advances in alloy and process development, mechanical testing, and material characterisation. Plans are also underway to expand its focus into developing disruptive process technologies, circular economies and industrial symbiosis, zero-carbon steel making, product development, and Industry 4.0.

SaMI is the forerunner to the UK National Steel Innovation Centre (UK-NISC) which is due to be operational by 2020.

Davies said: “Steel is a foundation industry supporting strategic advanced manufacturing and construction supply chains. A thriving steel industry is critical to a thriving manufacturing base in Wales and the UK. Research and innovation is propelling steel to become a great industry of the 21st century delivering new products, levels of performance and recycling possibilities.”

Jha said: ‌“Swansea University, together with the University of Warwick, is part of our two-hub strategy for collaborative research and development with universities. Integrating this new facility at Swansea with our existing network of researchers at different universities in UK is a stepping stone to our win-win approach to innovation. Researchers get real world problems to solve and Tata Steel brings its expertise and resources to give wings to innovative ideas.” 

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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