Tata Steel has formed a strategic partnership with the prominent UK research body, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to develop a range of innovations that will include graphene-coated steels and next-generation sensors that can operate in extreme environments.
The research will include studying the viability of coating steel strip with graphene, a one atom thick carbon layer whose properties include anti-corrosion and a high degree of electrical conductivity. Graphene coated steels could boost the energy efficiency of solar panels, or make buildings longer-lasting by reducing damage caused by water or even the most corrosive of chemicals.
Also among the key research areas will be ways to improve waste recycling processes and the development of new sensor equipment whose ability to operate in very high temperatures or extreme chemical environments could lead to greater understanding of metallurgical and chemical properties and processes.
The research partnership with the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will give Tata Steel access to a wider network of world-class experts, enhancing its research and development activities.
The partners will work together on long-term research, postgraduate training and knowledge exchange in a number of different pre-defined areas.
A research partnership agreement was signed earlier this month in the presence of the Rt Hon Vince Cable, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, and the Chief Executive of Tata Steel's European operations, Karl Koehler. It outlines ways in which Tata Steel and EPSRC can maximise the benefits from engaging British universities in research projects.
Debashish Bhattacharjee, Group Director for R&D at Tata Steel, said: "Our customers want us constantly to develop new and more sophisticated products that will help them overcome their challenges, now and in the future. We also need to develop new manufacturing processes to support product development. Our partnership with EPSRC will broaden and enhance our research capabilities, helping to speed up the achievement of these objectives."
Professor David Delpy, EPSRC Chief Executive, said: "EPSRC is proud to be working in partnership with Tata Steel and this agreement will strengthen the relationship further. Research across our portfolio has significant impacts in areas in which Tata Steel operates. The company is already investing in joint research projects with UK universities and Centres for Doctoral Training. These relationships will develop the processes and people the UK needs to perform well in the scientific and economic arena."
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About the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.
About Tata Steel's European operations
The European operations of Tata Steel, whose main steelmaking sites are in the UK and the Netherlands, comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. They supply steel and related services to construction, automotive, packaging, rail, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world's largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 29 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.