Engineering: Fully Funded M2A ENGD Scholarship: Solvent Free: Exploiting sustainable paint technologies for steel products at Swansea University
Start date: October 2022
Expected interview date: May 2022
Academic supervisors: Dr Ian Mabbett and Dr Natalie Wint
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 supporting the same market-prominent performance products but without the use of solvents, which will help to reduce the overall carbon footprint of Tata Steel.
Each year, the manufacturing site produces more than 300,000 tonnes of pre-finished steel product using several different polymer systems.
This research project is a unique and exciting opportunity for a committed research student to help to shape the sustainability future of the UK business; this is by fundamentally changing the polymers to produce sustainable, and high-performance products supplied to customers.
- Work in conjunction with our key paint supplier to fully understand the current paint formulation
- Use gained knowledge of suppliers who can offer synthetic alternatives of the key ingredients and formulate paints based on these alternatives to remove the need for fossil-fuel derived solvents
- Study 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
- Collaborate with other researchers in the group to develop the technology and demonstrate its potential via the use of a pilot production line.