Engineering: Fully Funded M2A EngD Scholarship: Sustainable Curing: Exploring alternative technologies for painted steel products
Start date: October 2022
Expected interview date: April 2022
Academic supervisors: Dr Ian Mabbett. Second supervisor to be confirmed.
Industrial supervisors: Dr Peter Barker and Neil Metherell
Sponsoring company: TATA Steel
Tata Steel UK is one of the largest producers of pre-painted steel in Europe and produces top range products which are specified throughout Europe, primarily for use in the construction industry. To maintain this position, the organisation is constantly trying to improve the current product range, either through the development of best-in-class coatings for the construction industry, improved offerings in service, or through added functionality. Tata’s premium coated products can offer maintenance free warranties of up to 40 years and this technology is based on decades of experience formulating paints sourced from fossil fuels as their feedstock.
With ever increasing focus on sustainability credentials and the circular economy, Tata Steel UK have a clear carbon reduction strategy. Part of this strategy requires the support of alternative curing technologies from the current gas-fired ovens, which will reduce the overall embodied carbon of the pre-finished steel products. It is envisaged as part of this research, that suitable pilot line capability will be developed to prove the chosen curing technology before scaling up to full manufacturing capability. Such alternative curing technologies could include, but are not limited to, ultra-violet (UV), electron beam (EB), induction curing, and infrared (IR) technologies.
This research project is a unique and exciting opportunity for a suitable research student to help shape the sustainability future of the UK business, by fundamentally changing the method of manufacturing.
- Work in conjunction with our key paint supplier to fully understand the current paint formulation, and how the paint formulation will need to be adapted depending on the curing method
- Assess the impact of the different curing process technologies on the various polymers
- Analyse materials via external and accelerated testing methods
- Use analytical techniques such as UV, ATR FTIR, and Raman spectroscopy to better clarify the mechanism and rates of organic coating degradation and erosion
- Look to enhance the pilot line to evaluate the preferred curing process technologies, and provide recommendations to the business as to the suitability of the various options