BCAST Brunel


Company Profile

Brunel University, based in Uxbridge West London, is home to nearly 15,000 students from over 100 countries. BCAST is a specialist research institute at Brunel that focuses on research in the field of solidification and casting, particularly in light metals. Established in 2002, BCAST has grown to be one of the largest and most successful groups in the world. We conduct fundamental research in solidification science; develop innovative casting technologies; and seek to build a sustainable metallurgical industry. BCAST’s research is highly collaborative, with a total of ~25 university/research institute and ~55 industrial partners. Major partners include Jaguar Land Rover and Constellium. BCAST is one of nine members of the global Light Metals Alliance.

Expertise related to the project

BCAST is involved in numerous projects funded by the UK government, the EU, and industry. Major highlights include leadership of the EPSRC Centre - LiME, a national centre of excellence in liquid metal engineering; leadership of the TARF-LCV programme, a £4M project in collaboration with seven other universities on developing future lightweight vehicle structures; and development of a new £17M advanced metals casting centre, a national scale-up facility. BCAST has skills in modelling related to solidification including CALPHAD approaches to phase equilibria; microstructural characterisation; and metals processing from laboratory to full industrial scales. Facilities and skills include DC casting, high and low pressure die casting, twin roll casting and the downstream processes of rolling and extrusion.

Technical person(s) working on the project

Prof. Zhongyun Fan is a Professor of Metallurgy and the Director and founder of BCAST. He has published over 270 scientific papers on materials processing, phase transformations, solidification, rheology and alloy development. He holds nine patents, and is the principal inventor of the high shear melt conditioning technologies. He is a member of the scientific committees of six international conferences on solidification and solidification processing.

Dr Ian Stone is Deputy Director of BCAST. His interests include rapid solidification, MMCs, solidification microstructures, spray forming, semi-solid alloys, rheocasting, the role of grain refiners on intermetallic phase selection, and plain bearing alloys. In the course of his research he has installed, commissioned and operated a number of pilot and industrial scale metals processing facilities. He has over 40 publications and has edited four international conference proceedings.

Dr Jayesh Patel is a Senior Research Fellow. He focuses on process development for the patented melt conditioning technologies invented at BCAST. He has been involved in numerous projects on physical and chemical refinement of aluminium and magnesium alloys. Most recently, his main research interest has been in preparing the BCAST technologies for commercial application.

Main role within the project

We provide the key high shear technology that underpins the RecycAl programme. Our main role is to lead WP2 [High Shear Process (HSP) Development & Optimisation]. We will (i) demonstrate HSP for the dispersion of oxide particles; (ii) demonstrate HSP for dispersing inert gas bubbles and degassing; (iii) demonstrate HSP for the removal of Fe based intermetallics from the melt; (iv) carry out DC casting of ingots and billets, and high pressure diecasting of test shapes, using the HSP refined scrap; (v) demonstrate recycled alloys with increased tolerance to impurities; and (vi) scale-up the HSP operation towards the commercial scale. BCAST will also carry out validation of process models developed by UCD in WP3 and WP4.

Benefits expected from the participation in the project

  • Demonstration of patented high shear technology in the application of refining scrap aluminium, and benefitting from potential licensing of background IP.
  • Advances in fundamental nucleation research.
  • Developing new research partnerships.
  • Working towards BCAST’s long term vision for a sustainable metallurgical industry.
  • Scientific publications and conference presentations.