The nature of research activities undertaken in the Centre for Materials Engineering at UCT is defined in the following contexts:
• The development and growth of a sustainable and competitive manufacturing industry in South Africa is contingent upon developing and nurturing expertise in materials science and engineering, with specific attention directed towards materials in manufacturing. In view of this it is important that materials research is integrated into a multi-disciplinary approach towards strengthening manufacturing and product technologies. As such, the research activities must provide a platform to develop appropriate human resources that can underpin a developing manufacturing economy in South Africa. These needs are addressed by integrating multiple research projects into a single ongoing theme, namely, materials in manufacturing.
• Safe and sustainable engineering practice requires expert knowledge of the performance of materials during service, the ability to assess remnant life, and the expertise to institute remedial action as appropriate.
Whilst our Centre has historically been involved in extensive studies with respect to the tribology of materials and engineering systems, our current focus has been extended to include high temperature strength and creep performance, fatigue and fracture, and corrosion and chemical degradation of materials. In this regard, our research is directed at supporting, where possible, the chemical, energy, mining, construction and marine industries in South Africa.
The most dominant in terms of current activities is the involvement and support provided by the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI). The EPPEI Materials and Mechanics Specialisation is hosted in our Centre since 2012 and we are presently in the Phase II cycle which continues until the end of 2021. Our contributions to the EPPEI programme, which include skills advancement for Eskom engineers, technical support for Eskom operations, and research and development for improving component life cycle management, is extensive and involves substantial collaboration with other academic institutions in South Africa.