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NSIRC MSc Research Contributes to ASME Conference Award

NSIRC MSc Research Contributes to ASME Conference Award

Written by Peggy Jones

Research conducted by Natalia Garbán during her MSc at NSIRC has been recognised by way of a conference paper. Along with co-authors Philippa Moore, Philippe Bastid and Kevin Hughes, the paper was awarded by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) during their 2018 Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference in Prague.

Natalia completed her MSc in Structural Integrity (Asset Reliability Management) with NSIRC and Brunel University London in 2017, subsequently joining TWI as a Project Leader in the Condition and Structural Health Monitoring Section (CSM). Her dissertation project explored how the width of the weld and mismatch ratio affect the fracture toughness of metallic material. The project was titled ‘The Effect of Weld Width on the Accuracy of Fracture Toughness Test Results’, and aimed to identify whether the calculations supporting the standard BS EN ISO15653 were still valid.

"The industrial and professional environment NSIRC offers students is the ideal place for them to benefit from major engineering expertise,"

The standard is based on research conducted during the 1990s, and as its approach and calculations are considered conservative, Natalia’s MSc research aimed to determine whether different approximations could be considered. By simulating the fracture mechanic testing methodology proposed by the standard using finite element analysis (FEA), Natalia was able to confirm that the standard is in some cases conservative. Different weld width and mismatch ratio configurations suggested that there are alternative approximations which could be considered when moving into the design stage of the standard.

The conclusiveness of these results encouraged Natalia’s supervisor, MPF Research and Development Manager Philippa Moore, to suggest using them in a paper. With MSc Course Director Kevin Hughes, and AFM Principle Project Leader Philippe Bastid, Natalia and Philippa authored the paper, which was titled ‘Effect of Weld Strength Mismatch and Weld Width on the Fracture Toughness Determined from SENB Specimens’. New equations were produced according to the FEA results, and were tested against them. This provided substantial grounds upon which the standard could be improved, and industrial practice bettered.

On receiving an award for her paper, Director of the TWI Innovation Network Prof Tat-Hean Gan said that this award ‘demonstrates the impact of the research being conducted through NSIRC, delivering academic excellence at MSc to PhD level directly to industry. For Natalia to make such a valuable contribution to industrial standards shows that NSIRC research is contributing to the improvement of standards, which are the backbone of engineering excellence, as well as industrial processes themselves’.

Philippa Moore said that the recognition of this work is ‘an endorsement of the research that NSIRC is able to deliver in support of standards with the involvement of TWI experts. The industrial and professional environment NSIRC offers students is the ideal place for them to benefit from major engineering expertise, and in turn give back to it’. 

Kevin Hughes added that ‘NSIRC spans a crucial gap between academia, which wants students who can think and work practically, and industry, who need engineers with complex academic know-how. Natalia’s work exemplifies this, and the ASME award is proof of how valuable such a link is’.

Natalia said that ‘it always feels good when your work is recognised, and I am pleased my research is of great use for industry. I felt attracted to the dissertation topic as soon as it was proposed, and one of the reasons was because I saw its potential for being part of the improvement of standards. I think NSIRC is a great opportunity for students to be able to get involved in these type of projects and contribute to the industry’.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is one of the oldest standards-developing organisations in America, and their commendation of this research highlights it as being of great benefit to this standard. The paper was chosen as a beacon of important standards development in the company of over 40 different attendant countries.

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Natalia Garbán (right)  Philippa Moore, Philippe Bastid. Photograph: Simon Condie / TWI Ltd
Natalia Garbán (right), Philippa Moore, Philippe Bastid. Photograph: Simon Condie / TWI Ltd