Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology is an academic research centre focusing on both fundamental and applied research on solidification of metallic materials.
BCAST was first established in October 2002, and is now one of the world's strongest solidification research groups. It comprises 60+ members of staff from academics, research fellows, postgraduate research students, technicians and administrative staff. Current projects cover a wide selection of topics that range from intensive shearing to direct chill (DC) casting to recycling to Molecular Dynamic Simulations of interfacial monolayers. In particular BCAST strives to realise a sustainable metals market and provide industries with environmentally friendly metal processing solutions. Our research activities span from fundamental research, to technological developments to industrial applications. Our research is well supported by EPSRC, TSB, EU and a network of industrial companies including Constellium, JLR and Aeromet to list but a few. We also provide a unique collection of state-of-the-art facilities.
Based at BCAST, the Future LiME Hub continues on the success of the EPSRC Centre LiME, which was established in February 2010. The long-term vision of the Hub is full metal circulation, in which the global demand for metallic materials is met by a full circulation of secondary metals (with only limited addition of primary metals each year) through reduced usage, reuse, remanufacture, closed-loop recycling and effective recovery and refining of secondary metals (as illustrated below). This represents a paradigm shift for metallurgical science, manufacturing technology and the industrial landscape. This vision is shared by both our academic spokes and our industrial collaborators. The Future LiME Hub will lay down a solid foundation for full metal circulation.
Vision - Our ideas for the future
BCAST aims to be an international leader in liquid metal engineering in order to underpin and strengthen solidification research, strategic technology developments and user-led industrial applications. We conduct fundamental research to generate world-class knowledge in solidification science. We develop and exploit innovative and sustainable technologies and enable the metal casting industry and its customers to improve their competitiveness in global markets.
This is deeply rooted in our vision for future solidification science, technological development and sustainability for the metallurgical industry:
Effective microstructural control can be achieved by control of nucleation during solidification through better understanding of liquid metal engineering. This represents a fundamental move away from the traditional growth-focused solidification research to a new nucleation-centred one. Nucleation largely controls the solidified microstructure, casting defects and performance of cast components, and if it can be enhanced to such an extent, crystal growth will become simpler and less important. Liquid metal engineering broadens the horizon of nucleation control through manipulation of the chemical and physical nature of both endogenous and exogenous nucleating particles prior to solidification processing. It promises in the long-term a new framework for solidification science, based on which advanced materials, highly efficient processing technologies and new products can be developed.
High performance metallic components and feed stock materials can be manufactured by innovative solidification processing through liquid metal engineering with little requirement for solid state processing, which is energy intensive, time consuming and inevitably high cost. This represents a paradigm shift from the current solid state deformation based materials processing to a solidification centred materials engineering. This will profoundly change the configuration of the future metal processing industry, in which metal casting will deliver the required engineering properties with little or no contribution from thermo-mechanical processing and result in significant savings of energy and materials at all manufacturing stages.
Sustainable metallurgical industry
The demand for metallic materials can be met by an efficient circulation of existing metallic materials with limited additions of primary metal to sustain the circulation loop. After so many years of intensive mining and chemical extraction, billions of tons of metals have been produced, and primary metals production is still rising. The earth’s resources have been extremely exploited; this trend has to be reversed. In the future (say 20-30 years), all metallic materials will be effectively circulated (e.g., in a 20-year cycle) through innovative technologies for reuse, remanufacture, direct recycling and chemical conversion and only limited amount of primary metals will need to be produced each year to sustain the circulation and to allow for growth and circulation losses. This will transform the current primary metal based metallurgical industry into one that thrives on secondary metals, and will lead to significant conservation of natural resources and energy.