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TWI Joins Partners for New Materials Centre of Excellence

Thu, 01 February, 2024

TWI is delighted to be a partner in a new advanced materials centre of excellence, supporting the development of exciting new materials for the UK armed forces in extreme physical environments.

A new £42.5 million research partnership has been created by The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to create The Defence Materials Centre of Excellence (DMEx), bringing together world-leading experts from academia, industry, and research organisations.

TWI is one of 23 partners being led by The Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials in a national effort to accelerate advances in defence material technology for extreme physical environments.

This will see the research, creation and prototyping of new materials capable of surviving a range of conditions such as:

  • temperatures of 1,000 °C
  • polar to tropical operations
  • high impact vibrations
  • shock
  • blasts
  • extreme water depth

Advanced materials can range from body armour for military personnel to those that protect the sensitive electronics used in satellites from radiation damage and corrosion-resistant materials used for submarine components.

Speaking on the work of the new Centre, UK Defence Minister James Cartlidge said, “These exciting new materials not only fortify the safety of our personnel and assets, but also symbolise our creativity and innovation in the face of defence challenges. The research and creation of these materials will secure highly skilled jobs and expertise across the country and cements the UK’s place as a global leader in advanced materials.”

Dstl Chief Executive Dr Paul Hollinshead OBE MBA also spoke on the Centre, saying “Advanced materials are the building blocks of the future and an area of great international competition. Today we are putting the UK on path to maintain its strategic advantage by harnessing all the nation’s talents. This highly-collaborative partnership between Dstl, academia and industry will create operational advantage for our armed forces, while supporting UK growth and prosperity.”

Meanwhile, Laura Jones, the Centre Associate Director said, “This is a major milestone for Dstl and wider defence to explore and accelerate advanced materials innovation in the UK to help us stay ahead of future threats and challenges.”

Defence research has a history of developing innovations that find uses in civilian applications, while funding for the new Centre will help grow skills within the UK.

A UK Government study has shown that activities related to advanced materials contributes an estimated £14.4 billion in gross value added to the UK economy, which is equivalent to around £72,000 per employee.

Dstl and Centre of Excellence Principal Scientist Matthew Lunt said, “Advanced materials are critical in so many areas and we are delighted to bring so much talent together to ensure we can create, sustain and develop these highly-specialised and skilled jobs for years to come.”

Regius Professor Phil Withers FRENg FRS, Chief Scientist at the Henry Royce Institute and Regius Professor at the University of Manchester, said, “I am very excited about this opportunity for the Royce to team up with Catapults, industry, other universities and Dstl to bring many of the brightest minds and state of the art capabilities together to undertake materials research and development in support of the UK.”

TWI has decades of experience in materials development across industry as well as having worked on a range of defence industry projects and we look forward to collaborating with other world leaders to achieve the aims of The Defence Materials Centre of Excellence.

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