In this update, the Industrial Liaison team focus on an important aspect of the work done at Diamond, collaborative research through external funding, and highlight ways in which they are engaging with industry through this route in fields ranging across physical science and engineering through to biology.
June 1st marked the end of an EU FP7 funded project 'CAtalytic membrane Reactors based on New mAterials for C1-C4 valorization' (CARENA). The four year EU-funded collaborative project aimed to create technologies for an efficient conversion of light alkanes and CO2 into higher value chemicals. The project partners included six companies, two SMEs, two research institutes, six universities, and a European network. Drs Elizabeth Shotton, Anna Kroner, and Claire Pizzey from Diamond’s Industrial Liaison team were co-investigators on the project and worked closely with other project partners by designing and performing experiments and helping to analyse the data. Anna also led the development of a microreactor sample environment to mimic the conditions experienced by catalytic materials during industrial processes for in situ experiments. The microreactor is now available for both industrial and academic users of Diamond and has proved immensely popular.
The Industrial Liaison team (left to right): Alex Dias, Elizabeth Shotton, Anna Kroner, Jitka Waterman, Leigh Connor, Claire Pizzey.
Gas-turbine engine development for the aerospace industry continues to strive for improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and a reduction in noise at take-off. Nickel-based superalloys are widely used in gas turbines, and much effort has previously gone into understanding the relationship between composition, microstructure, and properties. However, the scope for further developing nickel-based alloys is diminishing and therefore the rate of improvement of aero engine technology is decreasing. There is, therefore, an opportunity to investigate alternative lightweight alloy systems, which may also be able to operate under high temperatures, handle greater stresses, and remain in service for longer. Dr Leigh Connor from the Industrial Liaison team is a co-investigator on an Innovate UK-supported project on the high throughput development of superalloys. The main grant partners are Diamond, Ilika plc., and University of Cambridge; the research team also benefits from the participation of Rolls-Royce through the programme steering committee. The goals of the project are to use high throughput, or combinatorial, techniques that involve the rapid synthesis of large numbers of different structurally-related materials in a few automated processing steps. The project started in 2014 and the results will be published in due course.
Switching focus to structural biology, the EU funded project BioStruct-X, coordinated by EMBL-Hamburg, supports access for key methods in structural biology and comprises 11 facilities from across Europe. Together they provide 44 installations for applications including SAXS, MX, and biological X-ray imaging. To promote the exchange of knowledge, needs, and approaches between industrial scientists and BioStruct-X facility partners, a workshop was held at the DESY campus in Hamburg from 15th- 17th June. The Industrial Liaison team were full participants in the meeting; Dr Alex Dias presented the wide range of facilities now available for structural biology at and around Diamond.
Looking ahead, we’re busy organising Illuminating Challenges in Automotive Research (iCAR 2015), which will take place on 4th-5th November at Diamond, in partnership with Infineum UK Ltd. The conference brings together research scientists from the automotive sector with academics and research institutions to discuss the key challenges and ways in which to address them using state of the art facilities. Diamond and Infineum will award a prize to the early career researcher judged to have produced the best piece of work using Diamond’s facilities in a research area relevant to the automotive sector. Full details can be found at www.diamond.ac.uk/icar2015 and the closing date for nominations is 30th September.
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