A Swansea University researcher who is developing more environmentally friendly techniques for car manufacturing has won a £1000 award from the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, which will allow him to share his work with fellow experts.
Gethin Llewelyn of the College of Engineering at Swansea University is researching a technique called foam injection moulding (FIM), which is used to create lightweight polymer parts that need less energy and raw polymer to manufacture.
Picture: Gethin Llewelyn with his award, presented by Sylvia Robert-Sargeant and Simon Holt of the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales.
From 2020 European environmental legislation will be enforced, requiring the automotive industry to cut the carbon emissions involved in producing vehicles. Manufacturers will only be allowed to generate 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre for each car produced. Making cars lighter is one possible solution to this, which is why the industry is exploring new manufacturing techniques.
Gethin is working alongside some large automotive companies to assess how this FIM technology affects the quality of the final parts used in cars.
In his first project, he showed that foamed polypropylene (PP) parts, produced through a technique called MuCell® injection moulding, could weigh 15% less than parts manufactured using conventional methods. To check their performance, the parts were put through mechanical tests and assessed with sophisticated mould cavity pressure sensors.
Further research is now taking place to develop lightweight tooling, which would also cut the energy needed in the manufacturing process.
It is this work that secured Gethin the £1000 award from the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, following a competition open to Swansea University researchers who are in the early stages of their career.
One of the aims of The Company, founded in 1993, is to “promote education, science, technology and the arts in Wales”. This it achieves by helping young people throughout Wales to develop their talents and skills by means of an annual awards programme of scholarships and bursaries to students in schools, universities and technical colleges, as well as to apprentices and young people in the armed forces.
Gethin will use the Livery Company award to travel to Valladolid in Spain to attend FOAMS 2019, an international conference for experts in the field of plastic foaming. He will be giving a talk, which is a prestigious honour for a researcher, as well as presenting a conference paper. This will enable him to share his research and meet potential collaborators to take the work forward.
Gethin Llewelyn of Swansea University College of Engineering said:
“My research shows that this technique can help make the car industry greener, by cutting the energy and the carbon emissions in the manufacturing process.
A vital part of research is being able to meet and discuss ideas with other experts in the field, which is why this conference is such an important opportunity. It could be the basis of further research collaborations with other teams.
I am therefore very grateful to the Livery Company for the award, which enables me to attend the conference. Their support for Welsh research is very welcome and will help put Swansea University on the plastic foaming map.”
Gethin’s research is part of Swansea University’s Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) project, which is part funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.
Sylvia Robert-Sargeant, one of the judges for this competition, in presenting this Award to Gethin said:
“One of The Company's aims is to encourage and support students to progress with a specific project. We raise funds through various charitable events and also by reaching out, not only to Liverymen for financial support, but also to the wider community in Wales by inviting Welsh business circles, Foundations and other Organisations interested in promoting education, science, technology and the arts in Wales, to support our activities.
Gethin's work illustrates how such cutting edge research can make a vital contribution to one of our major industries in Wales. We are delighted to be able to support his efforts to build links with fellow experts in this field.”