Hywel is a principal research fellow in the Materials and Engineering Research Institute. He works across traditional disciplines to create solutions to industrially relevant problems through the use of his materials science knowledge. He has been a co-founder and director of 2 spin out companies, XeraCarb Ltd and Mikana Innovations Ltd to exploit his research outputs.
His work has been funded by the UK research councils and by UK Ministry of Defence as well as by private companies.
He has delivered many hundreds of consultancy projects for industrial customers delivering vital problem solving and product development services using material science expertise which have generated or saved many millions of pounds of industrial revenue.
His research is focussed in a number of areas:
- Ceramic Composites
- Tribology (Wear and Friction)
- Armour and Ballistics
- Precious Metals and Decorative Alloys
- Friction Stir Welding and Processing
- Electronic Waste and Recycling (Closed Loop Economy and Mobile Phones) – What’s In My Stuff
His first degree was in Physics from the University of Warwick ('88-'91). This was followed by a MSc in Physical Methods of Materials Characterisation ('92-'93) and a PhD in the 'Synthesis and Tribology of Sialon/TiB2 Ceramic Composites' ('93-'97) both of which were completed at the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick.
In 1997 he was appointed as a post doctoral research fellow for 3 years to work on the European funded project 'Ultratribo' to work on Ultra-hard Composites for Tribological Applications.
In 2000 he moved to Sheffield to take up a permanent position in the Materials and Engineering Research Institute. In 2004 he was promoted to Senior Consultant. He was a member of the Materials UK, Education and Skills Working Group, a committee which provided a report to influence government with regards the UK's strategy for materials for the next 20 years.
2002 Awarded the Institute of Materials Pfeil Prize for a paper of merit in the field of ceramics
Hywel managed the £1m 'Routes to Innovation' (R2i) programme run by MERI and funded by Yorkshire Forward and ERDF. R2i delivered in 12 months with the aim of providing materials and engineering advice and services to South Yorkshire industry in order for them to innovate and grow their businesses.
In 2008-2012 he was awarded a series of grants and contacts from UK Ministry of Defence to develop new light weight ceramic composites for defence applications.
In 2012 he was awarded the Venture Prize from the Armourers and Brasiers for the most commercially promising work in materials science. This led to the creation of the spin-out company XeraCarb Ltd to develop ceramic composites for body armour, high temperature service and wear resistant applications.
In 2017 his research into the development of novel mixed metal decorative alloys using friction stir processing led to the setting up of the spin-out company Mikana Innovations Ltd which is seeking to commercially exploit the results of the research.
Part of his role is to work with regional, national and international companies to provide consultancy services in the area of materials science and materials characterisation and forensics analysis. He has delivered many hundreds of consultancy projects for industrial customers delivering vital problem solving and product development services using material science expertise which have generated or saved many millions of pounds of industrial revenue. He has acted as an expert witness in both criminal and civil court cases.
He makes regular contribution to the media (TV, Radio, On-Line) in his areas of expertise and in particular e-waste and mobile phone recycling and ballistics and armour.
His expertise in materials characterisation covers the following areas:
Environmental Scanning electron microscopy (ESEM)
Elemental Analysis using Energy dispersive x-ray analysis (EDX)
x-ray diffraction (phase id, crystallite size)
macro, micro and nano hardness measurements
wear testing (including micro-scale abrasive testing)
wear metrology methods
fracture toughness measurement
element depth profiling by Glow Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy (GDOES)
Infinite Focus Microscopy (IFM), 3D optical colour profiling of microscopic features
experience of ceramics, metals, glasses and polymers and composites
Science, Technology and Arts
- Materials and Engineering Research Institute
Hywel carries out research and development in several areas in collaboration with industrial partners. These include
- ceramics and ceramic composites
- tribology (friction and wear)
- the development of new technology for knife edge production (EPSRC CASE Award 2008)
- the synthesis of high value metals by the FFC Cambridge process
- EPSRC CASE Award 2005 with Metalysis Ltd Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham
- hard facing coatings for agricultural applications
- EPSRC CASE 2004 PhD with Chapmans Agricultural Ltd, Sheffield
- development of anti-tarnish silver alloys
- European project (£1.8 million) with seven partners including Siemens, Munich, CEA, Grenoble and Carrs Silverware, Sheffield
- the development of surface mount technology pick and place nozzle. Metro Technologies Ltd, Doncaster
- the development of new electro-conductive zirconia composites. Dynamic Ceramic Ltd, Crewe
Hywel worked as a consultant since 2000 and has carried out over 400 jobs for a wide range of industrial partners, saving or generating millions of pounds for those companies.
His particular fields of expertise are
- the analysis of materials via SEM and EDX
- the analysis of materials via XRD
- metallic and ceramic microstructures
- the failure of metallic and ceramic materials
- wear of materials
Some examples of work Hywel has carried out for industry are
- the cause of failure of furnace crucibles in Al production
- finding the cause of blockage in Endoscopy AERs
- identification of stress corrosion failures in brasses (gas supply industry)
- fatigue failures in automotive components (automotive and HGV industry)
- corrosion failure of aluminium heat exchangers (gas and oil industry)
- premature failure of zirconia bio-materials (bio-medical implants industry)
- the wear performace of cobalt-chromium alloys for hip prosthesis (bio-medical implants industry)
- erosion/corrosion wear of aluminium heat exchangers (food production industry)
Hywel is responsible for the coordination and management of the Materials and Engineering Research Institute's (MERI) consultancy activities. He is also an active senior researcher with a number of ongoing research projects. He was a member of the Materials UK, Education and Skills Working Group, a committee which provided a report to influence government with regards the UK's strategy for materials for the next 20 years. Hywel also carries out research and development in several areas in collaboration with industrial partners, including ceramics and ceramic composites.