Our home planet is unique and full of precious but finite natural resources. We have succeeded to design and create materials of all types in response to our every day life needs. However, materials used are often disposed of without fully maximising their value through their useful life. For example, in the UK, 540m tons of products and materials enter the economy each year but only 117m tons of this get recycled (WRAP, 2013). In addition to this, materials and materials flows are often key players on the overall performance of a particular system, product or service. In this context, the Materials Innovation Lab is a new Community of Practice within the rapidly-expanding Centre for Design Engineering that explores the sustainability of design and materials' life cycles.

Work at the lab aims to generate quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate and understand raw, manufactured and components materials' key properties, i.e. chemical and physical. Data is produced by standard materials testing methods and thorough characterisation, using state-of-the-art techniques such as scanning electron microscopes (SEM/ESEM), focus ion beam analysis (FIB), thermal gravimetrical analysis (TGA) and standard optical microscopy techniques. The analysis and comparison of these data sets allows researchers to understand materials failure and to propose innovative solutions to a particular material-related scenario. The Materials Innovation CoP works closely and in constant collaboration with other schools across campus. We seek a broad range of graduates, engineers, designers and scientists seeking to develop their knowledge and skills in the research of current and new materials in different systems to extend materials components and products' lives to ensure a more sustainable future.

Materials Innovation outputs

  • Shafiee M, Alghamdi A, Sansom C, Hart P & Encinas-Oropesa A (2020) A through-life cost analysis model to support investment decision-making in concentrated solar power projects, Energies, 13 (7) Article No. 1553.
  • Wang J, Wang L, Sun N, Tierney R, Li H, Corsetti M, Williams L, Wong PK & Wong TS (2019) Viscoelastic solid-repellent coatings for extreme water saving and global sanitation, Nature Sustainability, 2 (12) 1097-1105.
  • Whaites H, Encinas-Oropesa A & Zarza-Delgado MP (2018) Energy development and indigenous Mexican women: An implementation strategy approach in San Jose Villa de Allende, Mexico, Legado de Arquitectura y Diseño, 13 (24) 92-103.
  • Nagy H, Zarza-Delgado M & Encinas-Oropesa A (2016) Exploring environmental behaviour at home among UK women and its importance to develop an appropriate communication strategy for energy saving, Legado de Arquitectura y Diseño, 20 87-98.
  • umner J, Encinas-Oropesa A, Simms NJ & Nicholls JR (2014) Type II hot corrosion: Behavior of CMSX-4 and IN738LC as a function of corrosion environment, Materials and Corrosion / Werkstoffe und Korrosion, 65 (2) 188-196.