Computational Science and Engineering Group
Working with industry heavyweights such as Rio-Tinto, Arcelor-Mittal and Rolls-Royce, we use high-performance parallel cluster computing systems to find solutions to a wide range of industrial and environmental problems.
Developing the materials of the future
The development of new materials is a major strand of our work, and is currently playing a crucial role in IMPRESS. Jointly-funded by the European Space Agency and the European Union, this prestigious £41 million project aims to make Europe a world-leader in the strategically important area of intermetallic alloys.
Why were we chosen for IMPRESS?
Put simply, we have some of the best people in the field and an impressive international reputation for expertise in mathematical modelling in metals and minerals processing (extraction, smelting, casting and welding). We also have long-term involvement in a number of projects of global significance including the modelling of the Rio-Tinto HIsmelt process in Western Australia, which aims to replace Blast Furnace technology by directly smelting iron ore into iron.
To increase efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, gas turbine blades for power generation and aero-engines need to be run at much higher temperatures than is currently possible. So, we are using our SPHINX and PHYSICA software to help produce new titanium-based alloys that, despite being metals, share characteristics with ceramics and can therefore withstand much higher temperatures without suffering creep.
A new technique
We needed to combine our modelling with complex experimental work, because titanium alloys are extremely difficult to make and our alloy eroded the traditional ceramic crucible. So we created a new water-cooled copper crucible where the metal is partially suspended by an electromagnetic repulsion force and is melted by induction, using an AC coil.
We are currently working on a range of projects covering aero-acoustics, microwaves, particulates handling, and water and atmospheric pollution. Future work is likely to revolve around environmental issues with carbon abatement a primary focus.
Multi-physics modelling software
A main focus of our research, multi-physics modelling uses special numerical methods and software tools that exploit high-performance parallel cluster computing systems. We have commercialised this software and now sell it to companies around the world.