The A350-XWB is the first Airbus airliner to have composite wings,
thereby reducing structural weight compared with the current generation of
metallic wings. With over 700 orders for the aircraft, the company has
placed great emphasis on the need to maximise performance benefits whilst
mitigating risk associated with manufacture of the all-new wing. The Bath
Composites Research Unit has supplied underpinning research to:
(1) Develop an algorithm that has been used to design the composite wing
skins for optimised performance;
(2) Analyse the laminate consolidation process for the wing spars.
The impact of (1) is a direct saving of 1.0 tonne of fuel per typical
flight compared with current metallic skins. This represents a total fuel
saving of around 40,000 tonnes, over the design life of each aircraft. The
impact of (2) is the achievement of satisfactory part quality for current
production rates of spars valued at £1M each when equipped.
Diffusion bonding (DB) is well-known for producing structured materials
with fine scale features and is a critical technology for high efficiency
reactors, e.g. heat exchangers and fuel cells, but currently equipment is
slow and expensive (and there are size limitations to the `assemblies'
that can be built). The University has researched and developed, with
industry partners, a rapid affordable diffusion bonding (ADB) process
involving direct heating to provide appropriate temperature and stress
states and utilising flexible ultra-insulation (vacuum) for pressing
titanium (and now aluminium) sheets together. The process operates at low
stresses thus avoiding `channel' collapse. Investment is taking place in
the partner companies to exploit the technology. A breakthrough has been
achieved in the chemical machining of three dimensional structures for
laminar flow technology assemblies in aluminium and titanium, that can be
built by ADB.
The impact presented in this case study is the commercialisation of 15
products with perfume
microcapsules by Procter and Gamble (P&G), made possible using capsule
data provided by Prof Zhibing Zhang's research group at Birmingham. Use of
improved freshness performance, and thus commercial advantage, compared
formulations; they have been incorporated in P&G's four major
billion-dollar brands — Downy,
Febreze, Lenor and Tide. This has significantly improved their
competitiveness enabling P&G to
retain their leading position in the USA and Western Europe. A novel
developed at the University of Birmingham has been used extensively to
properties data for the micro-particles, including microcapsules prepared
in Birmingham and
provided by companies, which is related to their formulation and
processing conditions and end-
use performance. In addition, the knowledge generated has helped 15 other
commercialise new functional products containing micro-particles.
This case study deals with research undertaken at Plymouth University
leading to the development of an innovative friction stir welding process
(friction hydro-taper pillar processing, FHPP) and a bespoke welding
platform that improves the assessment and repair methodology for creep
damaged thermal power station components. This technology, developed in
collaboration with Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and with
industry investment, enables power station engineers to extend the life of
power generating plant leading to multi-million pound cost savings (over
£66M in direct financial savings are demonstrated in this case) plus
significant safety and societal impacts. It has been patented in South
Africa and a spin-off company has been formed.
Please note that economic impact values were achieved in Rand (R) but are
expressed in £ and therefore worth less in £ today than during the period
when the stated impact was achieved.
The investigators of this impact case study have utilised their expertise
in materials engineering, theoretical/numerical modelling and product
development to achieve significant economic, social and environmental
impacts in a range of fields through developing a systematic methodology
for innovative product design and optimisation. Through several industrial
projects and collaborations, significant impacts have been witnessed
including new products creating several million pounds in revenue annually
for businesses in different sectors and green manufacturing technologies
in repair and reclamation of components. All the described impacts were
results of investigation in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials
Research Centre (MEMARC) over the assessment period.
University of Bradford research has enabled a material manufacturing
company, Armacell, to reuse
up to 95% of its production waste to produce new, high-value acoustic
products with up to 50%
better acoustic performance than any competition products of similar size.
We protected the
developed IP through several international patents and set up a spin-off
company, Acoutechs Ltd,
to explore this technology commercially. These materials are now used to
reduce noise levels
below the recommended limits and to improve the general acoustic quality
of spaces at home and
work for the benefit of public health. The products generate an annual
turnover of more than €4
million for Armacell and prevent more than 500 tonnes of plastic waste
from going into landfill
Research at Manchester has led to the development of a new class of high
performance magnesium alloys based on the addition of rare-earth alloying
elements. The new alloys combine low density and the highest strength of
any magnesium alloy. Used to substitute for aluminium in aerospace and
automotive they produce weight savings of 35% improving performance and
reducing fuel consumption. Commercialisation of these alloys by Magnesium
Elektron (ME), the international leader in magnesium alloy development,
contributes over $20m per annum to company revenue. This includes
development of the first commercial product available for bioresorbable
magnesium implants, SynermagTM, launched in 2012.
BRITEST is a global leader in the development of innovative process
solutions for the chemical
processing sector with > £500m of value being realized since 2008.
Research in Manchester
(1997-2000) generated a set of novel tools and methodologies which analyse
to identify where and how process improvements could be made. BRITEST was
2001 as a not-for-profit company to manage the technology transfer and
effective deployment of
these tools and methodologies into industry. Manchester holds the IP
arising from the underpinning
research and has granted an exclusive license to BRITEST for use and
exploitation of the toolkit.
UCL's creation of ultra scale-down (USD) technologies has led to economic
benefits by speeding to manufacture next-generation healthcare products.
This has resulted in documented savings for pharmaceutical companies in
pilot-scale studies (eg ~£280k for a protein therapy) and in manufacturing
cost-of-goods (eg ~£200k pa for an antibody). Licensing values realised
for USD-facilitated manufacturing processes range from a £10m early-stage
payment for an antibody therapy [text removed for publication] to US$1bn
for a therapeutic vaccine.
Since 2008 some 40 companies have used UCL USD technologies, which have
now also facilitated the formation of a spin-out company and additional
job creation. Patient benefits have emerged through the contribution of
USD to better bioprocess definition, with USD technologies now helping
deliver the US Food and Drug Administration's Quality by Design initiative
for biopharmaceuticals, valued at more than US$20bn a year through a 25%
reduction in time-to-market and more robust manufacture.
Driven by concerns over public health and intensifying legislative
demands of the food industry in Europe and USA, the reliable and effective
removal of unwanted objects from food products at a processing stage is
increasingly important. The assurance of food quality and safety
throughout the pre- and post-harvest food chain makes this issue even more
significant. The effective implementation of relevant technological
solutions for food safety and quality can dictate the survival, growth and
competitive edge of some major sectors of the economy.
Food sorting machines are essential for eliminating unwanted food items
from the production process to ensure that quality is maintained at the
highest level for consumers. Key research at City University London has
led to the development of a unique solenoid actuator valve (ejector),
which opens and closes a high-pressure air jet in such machines to remove
defective food items more accurately and efficiently from the production
The sorting machines which use it have a fivefold improvement in consumer
food quality and safety and are 20% more energy efficient. Sales of these
machines have been enhanced by 50% as a consequence of these improvements.
The new valve delivers approximately 50% less food waste during the first
sorting pass and offers a fourfold reduction in power consumption,
contributing positively to global agricultural sustainability. The work
undertaken has also assisted the industrial partner in opening up a new
market for sorting machines for sorting plastics.