Imperial College London
has announced the launch of the Imperial College Structural Ceramic Centre (ICSCC), a joint project between the college’s Departments of Materials and Mechanical Engineering.
An Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Science and Innovation Award is funding the centre to the tune of £6m over a 5-year period. The project aims to dramatically improve the strength and durability of structural ceramics, made of inorganic materials like oxides, carbides and nitrides, to meet industrial demand for materials that can withstand extreme environments.
Projects will include collaborations with aerospace organisations such as NASA to develop the next generation of reusable spacecraft, which require new materials for tiles that can withstand both the freezing conditions of space and the scorching heat of take-off and re-entry.
The ICSCC will also focus on improving composite layers of ceramics for body and vehicle armour for troops and security personnel that can absorb and deflect explosive high impact shells.
The application of ceramics in energy generation will also be explored, with potential applications in power generation including pebble bed nuclear reactors.
The funding will support the construction of laboratory facilities at Imperial's South Kensington Campus, including the design and construction of instruments capable of measuring properties in ceramics, like strength and toughness.