Contact Professor Nigel Simms

Areas of expertise

  • Biomass and Waste
  • Carbon Capture and Storage
  • Conventional & Advanced Fuels
  • Fuels
  • Gas Turbines & Propulsion
  • Power Systems & Turbines
  • Structures and Materials
  • Surface Engineering


Professor Nigel Simms, MA, PhD, joined Cranfield University in 1998 following a 10 year period working for British Coal, which was preceded by education at Cambridge University. At Cambridge he completed a BA/MA in Natural Sciences and a PhD in Materials Science and Metallurgy. At British Coal he worked on a wide range of topics including the development of various advanced coal-fired power generation systems and component/process failure analysis. As Metallurgy/Materials Team Leader at British Coal, he managed a team of up to 15 people and participated in a range of UK and European collaborative projects on materials performance and hot gas cleaning in clean coal systems, including projects within the BC/CEGB Joint Programme on PFBC, the Grimethorpe Topping Cycle Project and the Air Blown Gasification Cycle developments. These activities have given him wide-ranging experience of the performance of components and materials in advanced power generation systems, as well as experience in the design and development of large laboratory scale test rigs and pilot plants for investigating materials performance in realistic industrial conditions.

Current activities

Professor Simms’ research activities are targeted at power generation systems, with emphasis on the development of advanced higher efficiency and lower emission power systems and the performance of components and materials in such systems. He is responsible for a wide of energy and materials related experimental facilities in the Centre for Energy and Resource Technology. These facilities include pilot plants for combustion and gasification of fuels, as well as a range of high temperature controlled atmosphere corrosion / oxidation furnace systems. The facilities are housed in a newly extended building and recent adaptions have included the installation of bulk gas supply systems for carbon capture and transport R&D. 

The activities of Professor Simms’ Energy Materials research group  have mostly been focused at generating understanding and predictive models of the performances of alloys and coatings in current and new power systems. This has included the use of alternative fuels (e.g. biomass, waste products alone and co-fired with coal), the development of new processes to minimise environmental impact (e.g. by optimisation of hot gas cleaning systems) and the development of new protective coating systems. Alloys and coatings for a wide range of components have been investigated, including: blades, vanes and seals for industrial gas turbines and jet engines; superheaters, resheaters and waterwalls for conventional power stations / steam systems; hot gas filters, syngas coolers, etc, for integrated gasification combined cycle systems.

Many of these research activities have been parts of large multi-partner, multi-disciplinary projects at least partly funded by a wide range of UK government and EU agencies. In addition, industrial companies are increasingly funding R&D related to materials and coating performance for specific components and operating environments, including the development of predictive models and new coating systems.

Networking activities have included: EU COST programmes on power plant materials and a UK-US collaborative programme on ‘Advanced Materials for Low Emission Power Plants’. He has published over 100 research papers on coal/biomass/waste technologies, materials/coatings performance and the development of corrosion life prediction models.


Current and previous clients for work at Cranfield University have included: 
  • UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
  • UK Technology Strategy Board
  • UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) 
  • UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 
  • EU Framework Programmes (FP5, FP6 and FP7) 
  • European Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) 
  • European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) 
  • Rolls-Royce plc Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery, UK 
  • Siemens Power Generation Inc, USA 
  • Siemens Energy Inc, USA and Germany 
  • Alstom Power, UK 
  • Alstom Power, Switzerland 
  • Doosan Babcock, UK 
  • Brunner Mond, UK 
  • Porvair Filtration, UK 
  • Thames Water Utilities Ltd, UK
  • Severn Trent plc, UK
  • RWE npower plc, UK
  • E.ON, UK


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers


  • Animah I, Shafiee M, Simms N & Considine M (2017) Techno-Economic Feasibility Assessment of Life Extension Decision for Safety Critical Assets. In: Risk, Reliability and Safety: Innovating Theory and Practice. Walls L, Revie M, Bedford T (ed.), London: CRC Press.
  • Gohari Darabkhani H, Jurado N, Simms N & Oakey J (2012) Co-firing of coal/biomass in a pilot scale oxy-combustor: experiences and experimental results. In: Fuelling the future: advances in science and technologies for energy generation, transmission and storage. Mendez-Vilas A (ed.), Boca Raton, FL, USA: Brown Walker Press, p. 34-38.
  • Nicholls JR, Long KA & Simms NJ (2010) Diffusion coatings. In: Shreir's Corrosion, Amsterdam, p. 2532-2555.
  • Nicholls JR & Simms NJ (2010) Gas turbine oxidation and corrosion. In: Shrier's corrosion. Richardson TJA (ed.), Amsterdam, p. 518-540.
  • Simms N, Nicholls J, Oakey J (eds), (2001) Lifetime modelling of high temperature corrosion processes, Maney Publishing.
  • Simms N, Encinas-Oropesa A, Nicholls J, Oakey J (eds), (2001) Life modelling of high temperature corrosion processes, Maney Publishing.
  • Simms NJ, Nicholls JR & Oakey JE (2001) Corrosion and lifetime modelling of components in coal fired combined cycle power systems. In: Lifetime Modelling of High Temperature Corrosion Processes, London: Maney Publishing, p. 379-397.