News release – Cutting edge alloys for resource efficiency

  • Universities to work with industry to create resource efficient metal alloys
  • Project aimed at reducing the reliance on strategic metals and minimise waste in the metals industry

Engineers from four of the UK’s leading Universities are addressing the vital need for resource efficient metal alloys as part of a new multimillion pound research project in partnership with three leading UK universities.

The pioneering Designing Alloys for Resource Efficiency (DARE), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will tackle the future challenge of a limited pool of resources such as rare earth elements required for the development of metal alloys used in modern manufacturing technologies.

Jaguar's new XF model uses magnesium in the framework, one of the metal alloys DARE is working with.
Jaguar’s new XF model uses magnesium in the framework, one of the metal alloys DARE is working with.

The revolutionary project is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, King’s College London, the University of Cambridge and Imperial College – all of which are world leading institutes in the field.

The manufacturing and processing of metals to form components is one of the largest industrial sectors and accounts for 46 per cent of all manufactured value.

Material security concerns the access to raw materials to ensure military and economic sufficiency.

Its importance has increased due to limited short-term availability of some raw materials; widespread large increases in raw material prices; and dependence on a limited number of sometimes politically unstable countries as sources of key materials.

Professor Mark Rainforth, Head of the Department Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield said: “Metals are found in every aspect of society, including transport, power-generation, batteries, orthopaedics, computers and mobile phones and many more. There is one massive issue facing us in the future- many elements we use in metals have a finite resource or the resource comes from politically important areas. This is a ticking time bomb that we have to address now: design metal alloys in a resource efficient manner, and manufacture them with the minimum possible CO2 emission. ”

The DARE project’s unique approach will be to involve its industrial partners at the centre of the research.

Integrated teams of researchers will work with industrial partners throughout the life of the project to design, manufacture and test new alloys ready for implementation into industry.

The overall aim of the work will be to reduce the reliance on strategic metals and minimise waste in the metals industry. The methods developed within DARE will have a generic applicability to most metal alloys and will therefore impact on a wide range of industrial sectors, including manufacturing, transport, energy, healthcare technologies and defence.

Through the design of resource efficient alloys, the DARE project will contribute towards the growth of one of the largest sectors within manufacturing in the UK and Europe, address the transition towards a low carbon society and give researchers and PhD students the experience of working closely with partners in the metals manufacturing industry.

Dr Tim Wilks from Magnesium Elektron, a DARE industry partner, said: “Both the UK and EU have identified rare earths as strategically at-risk, with 95-97 per cent of the world supply produced by China. We purchase a significant quantity of rare earth (RE) chemicals and metals. In the last few years we have seen a large price rise due to Chinese supply controls. Although the price is now more stable, this caused a serious issue for us and our customers that we need to mitigate. Alloys with similar performance to existing RE containing alloys with reduced RE levels would be a significant step in this direction.”

The official launch of the Project will take place in Sheffield in September 2015, when leading academics will discuss their research carried out in this field and project partners will explain further about DARE. The event will be of interest to academics, representatives in industry and members of national and local government departments.

For further information about the launch and the DARE project please visit:

Additional information
For more information about DARE please contact Mark Rainforth or Jean Simpson through our contact page.


Academic partners:
Kings College London: Professor Tony Paxton and Professor Mark van Schilfgaarde
Imperial College London: Professor Fionn Dunne and Dr David Dye
University of Cambridge: Dr Pedro Eduardo Jose Rivera Diaz del Castillo

Industry partners:
Arcelor Mittal Steel and ferrous alloys
Magnesium Elektron magnesium alloy technology
Rolls Royce power systems for aircraft, ships and land applications
SAFRAN specialist in landing gear manufacture
Sheffield Forge Masters Carbon, Alloy and Stainless Steels
SIEMENS drives, gears, couplings and motors
TATA STEEL Europe’s second largest steel producer
TIMET titanium airframes

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