Aston University teams up with Brockhouse Group Limited to improve operation and energy efficiency of forging by reducing energy usage and utilising waste heat to generate electricity.

The Company: 

Brockhouse Group Limited (BGL), based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands, design and manufacture professional forgings in carbon, high alloy and stainless steel to leading companies across the world.

Their main markets include mining, oil and gas, railways, nuclear, automotive, off-highway, defence, fluid power and materials handling. 

The Challenge: 

The company currently exports 40 per cent of its output into the deep coal mining sector, which is expected to decline over the next ten years due to the global commitment to reduce carbon emissions. In addition, the company's location (situated amongst residential housing), means they are limited to the times that the forging processes can be operated because of the noise.

To improve competitiveness, BGL needs to operate at optimal levels of productivity while being more efficient.

The Solution: 

This KTP will enable BGL to attract new customers in energy conservation and renewable sectors by developing sustainable manufacturing processes. 

This will be achieved using Dr Nunes’ GRASS Model to investigate current operations characteristics and sustainability performance. This is an innovative approach directing the project to increased operational efficiency and reduction of energy costs in manufacturing, by reducing energy usage and converting waste heat to electrical power using the Organic Ranking Cycle.

“We’ve had some early success with supplying more sustainable businesses, with orders for the industrial Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) sector. Using our technical skills in forging and Aston University’s knowledge of operational and energy efficiency, we’re excited to acquire the skills needed to achieve our sustainable growth ambitions.” Stephen Walters, director of Brockhouse Group Limited.

Team Aston:

The Aston University team will be led by Dr Muhammed Imran and Dr Breno Nunes. Dr Muhammed Imran, senior lecturer in mechanical and design engineering, is a leading researcher in low-temperature and waste heat to power conversion technologies, thermal energy systems and energy efficiency. Dr Breno Nunes, senior lecturer in sustainable operations management, whose research is primarily focused on strategic aspects of making organisations more sustainable through the operations function (i.e. production capabilities), will lead the management side of the project.

“This is an exciting opportunity to utilise the expertise Dr Nunes and I have in energy efficiency and sustainable operations strategy respectively. We are delighted to support BGL to develop markets in the emerging energy conservation and renewable sectors, many of which are important for reducing carbon emissions”. Dr Muhammed Imran, senior lecturer in mechanical and design engineering at Aston University.

Next Steps: 

The KTP is a 30 month project – look out for more updates by following us on Twitter and checking our webpage.

For more information about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships or an informal chat, email or call 0121 204 4242.