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Tees Valley Materials Processing Institute and University of Leicester collaborate to support international steel producer

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Tees Valley-based research and innovation centre the Materials Processing Institute has continued to strengthen its ties with international steel producers, as part of a collaborative £500,000 research project.

The Institute has partnered with the University of Leicester and TWI Ltd to support Chinese steel manufacturer Nanjing Iron and Steel Company’s (NISCO). The project forms part of a £2m investment by NISCO at the University of Leicester in creating a UK-based steel research activity.

The collaboration aims to develop technology that can control the solidification process during the casting of very thick semi-finished steel products at NISCO’s production line, and improve productivity by reducing the segregation and porosity in these materials.

NISCO is a world leading steel manufacturer, which is based in Nanjing, the capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province.

The research project follows a joint call for R&D between Innovate UK and the Jiangsu Science and Technology Department, which forms part of the Jiangsu-UK Industrial Challenge programme that aims to stimulate economic growth in China.

The Materials Processing Institute recently welcomed delegates from NISCO to its Tees Valley campus for a tour of its facilities and to discuss the research project. It builds on previous visits to the Institute and research partnerships with a number of international steel giants, including thyssenkrupp, British Steel and Liberty House Group.

The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, has allocated up to £5m to fund projects in the programme, with the Institute successful in winning support for the joint development project. The Jiangsu Science and Technology department is also funding eligible partners from the Jiangsu province, as all projects involved in the programme must involve at least one UK business and one from the province.

The Materials Processing Institute is a research and innovation centre serving organisations that work in advanced materials, low carbon energy and the circular economy. It is recognised as a leading centre for the global steel industry, delivering research and innovation projects, consultancy and training.

Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “We are delighted to have been selected as a research partner for the development of new steel products and environmental technologies, for one of the world’s leading producers. The Institute is internationally recognised for its long track record in industrial R&D and is a globally-recognised research centre working with many steel companies to improve their products, processes and productivity.

“The collaborative expertise and industry knowledge between the Institute, the University of Leicester and TWI will prove to be an effective partnership that will add real value to the research project, and support the wider Industrial Challenge programme.”

Yixin Huang, Chair of NISCO Board, said: “A NISCO branded Research Centre has been established at the University of Leicester in collaboration with TWI and the Materials Processing Institute. The Centre will focus on research and development activities in a number of areas where our UK collaborators’ expertise can be deployed in areas of mutual interest.

“It will help NISCO achieve industrial upgrading and high quality development. At the same time, it also helps the University of Leicester and British research institutions to industrialization of scientific and technological achievements as soon as possible. The Research Centre would be a model for Sino-British cooperation, thus benefit the people of the two countries.”

Prof Hong Dong, Professor of Materials Engineering at the University of Leicester, Director of the Centre and Research Chair of Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The Centre, in collaboration with the Materials Processing Institute and TWI Ltd, will exploit the UK’s research strengths in metallic materials, manufacturing and informatics, and will deliver funded, high quality, high impact collaborative research.

“We aim to achieve world leading status in the area of metallic materials and advanced manufacturing by developing patents and translating technologies for adoption by NISCO. We will create an excellent research environment and become a world leader in our field.”

Dr Steve Shi, Associate Director and Materials Group Manager of TWI, said “The centre provides a platform for collaborations between NISCO and UK research organisations to develop industry driven technologies in development of new steels and new technologies associated with steel applications. TWI is one of the world’s most respected research and technology organisations specialised in materials joining, structure integrity and materials characterisation. We are delighted to have been selected as the research partner for the development of advanced joining technologies and materials performance assessment.”