The Royal Academy of Engineering has appointed Professor Hongbiao Dong to a five-year Research Chair at the University of Leicester, with the aim of developing a step change in metal processing.

The Royal Academy of Engineering / TWI Research Chair in Innovative Metal Processing will establish a world-leading metal research hub, specialising in new experimental techniques and models to understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying cracking and defect formation during welding, casting and metal 3D printing. This will include the development of new real-time imaging and computer models that can predict cracking during processing and environmentally induced failure in service.

By better understanding the physics behind defect formation, particularly in welding and metal 3D printing, Professor Dong will also provide strategies for the metal industry to design and optimise metallic components and structures with improved performance.

The metal industry accounted for 46% of EU manufacturing value in 2012, and makes a significant contribution to future challenges faced by society – from modern transport systems to a secure energy supply. The development of better-optimised processing techniques is of particular importance in high-value applications where metals are used in areas that are difficult to access and maintain – such as gas turbines and deep sea pipelines, where the effects of metal failure can be extremely damaging. A study on the metals used in gas and oil transportation systems forms the first project for the new Chair.

Professor Hongbiao Dong, Professor of Materials Engineering at the University of Leicester, said: “The welding industry has traditionally supported a diverse set of companies across the shipbuilding, pipeline, automotive, aerospace, defence and construction sectors. The scientific aspects of this project are exciting but challenging. Building on my experience in leading a large EU consortium in modelling of welding and the EPSRC CDT in metal processing, we will establish a metal research hub specialising in fundamental research of defect formation in metals and alloys.

“Through the partnership with TWI we aim to deliver 'use-inspired' research that meets both the current and future needs of metal industry. We are collaborating with the best people in their fields to achieve maximum benefit for the metal industry. It will be exciting when we all come together and a synergy develops from this collaboration between academia and industry”

Professor Tat-Hean Gan, TWI Associate Director and Director of Technology of the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), said: “TWI welcomes this collaboration with the University of Leicester. The partnership will enable the university to cooperate with TWI’s industrial members to create a shared research and technology facility, conduct joint research programmes and build mutual understanding of future research challenges and opportunities.

“By coordinating the University of Leicester’s research capabilities, it will develop the next generation of technologies and train scientists to become experts in the field of performance and mechanical behaviour of materials.

“The University of Leicester is also an academic partner of NSIRC, the postgraduate structural integrity research centre co-funded by TWI, and TWI is proud to be working with the university in a long-term strategic partnership for research in materials. This latest development will provide a platform for the consolidation and growth of this relationship between two organisations at the forefront of fundamental research in the materials field.”

Professor Sarah Hainsworth FREng, Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Leicester said “I am delighted that Professor Dong has obtained this prestigious Chair from the Royal Academy of Engineering and TWI.  Colleagues in Engineering at Leicester very much look forward to working with both Hong and TWI in developing high quality industrially focussed research that brings our expertise to bear on challenging materials engineering issues.”

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession 
  2. TWI is a research and technology organisation specialising in joining, welding, materials and structural integrity. Established in Cambridge, UK, in 1946, the organisation has a first-class reputation for engineering research and consultancy delivered through its teams of respected consultant scientists, engineers and technicians. With almost 1000 employees worldwide, TWI represents and supports over 700 industrial companies in over 4500 locations globally.
  3. The University of Leicester is led by discovery and innovation – an international centre for excellence renowned for research, teaching and broadening access to higher education. The University of Leicester is ranked among the top one per cent of universities in the world by the THE World University Rankings and also among the top 100 leading international universities in the world. It is among the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings with 75% of research adjudged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health, culture, and the environment. Find out more: le.ac.uk/about-us

For more information please contact:

Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0655
E: Aaron Boardley