Greenwich experts aim to transform the future of travel
By poppy_smith | Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 11:28
A €20million European project which could transform the future of travel and reduce pollution has been launched, with University of Greenwich experts playing a key role.
The ExoMet project aims to use nanoparticle technology to build new, lightweight types of transport, including space vehicles, planes and cars, with components that are also recyclable.
It brings together 27 leading companies, universities and research organisations from 11 countries, in a scheme led by the European Space Agency (ESA). Researchers will investigate the potential for replacing heavy steel in components with strengthened light alloy magnesium or aluminium at less than half the weight, leading to a reduction in fuel and CO2 emissions, as well as major savings in processing costs.
By design, many of the new materials used to build these vehicles will be recyclable, ensuring sustainability of resources for the future.
Professor Koulis Pericleous, Director of the university's Computational Science and Engineering research team, is leading the Greenwich part of the project. He says it was a great honour that his team was chosen to take part in such a far-reaching, international venture.
"The complex 'multi-physics' interactions featured in this project, such as fluid flow, heat transfer, sound waves and electromagnetics, can only be handled by a few groups in the world," Professor Pericleous says. "Fortunately, the Computational Science & Engineering Group has the necessary world-leading expertise, which is why we were invited to take part.
"We are all excited to be part of a project that is so scientifically interesting and, at the same time, will help reduce the impact of travel on the environment."
Using expertise gained in a series of earlier research projects in the metals and minerals processing sector, many of which have been funded by the European Union and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the team will develop mathematical models of the various processes considered by the ExoMet consortium.
Professor Pericleous explains that the mixture of molten metal and strengthening particles will be bombarded with electromagnetic fields and ultrasonic waves, to promote an even mixture before the metal solidifies. The models will guide experiments performed by project partners in a 'virtual laboratory', based on the Greenwich team's high performance computers. The information obtained will help researchers and industrial partners in ExoMet understand the physics behind the process and optimise the final products.
ExoMet is a four-year project, co-funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. Alongside Greenwich, partners include Fiat, EADS, Volvo, Hydro-aluminium and the universities of Manchester, Birmingham, Brunel and Queensland.
For more on ExoMet: http://www.exomet-project.eu/index.html
For more on the university's Computational Science & Engineering Group, within its Centre for Numerical Modelling & Process Analysis: http://cnmpa.gre.ac.uk/