Aston University teams up with Brockhouse Group Limited to improve operation and energy efficiency, expected to make a profit of over £1.3 million five years post KTP

Photo of a furnace
  • Aston University and Brockhouse Group Ltd enter 30-month Knowledge Transfer Partnership to develop sustainable manufacturing processes to drive competitiveness in energy conservation and renewable sectors.
  • The partnership will improve the energy efficiency of forging by reducing energy usage and capturing and reusing waste heat.
  • Aston University academics will use concepts from Dr Nunes’ GRASS Model (Greener Approach to Systems Strategy).

Aston University has teamed up with Midlands based forging experts Brockhouse Group Limited (BGL) through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to transform BGL into a more competitive and sustainable business. The project will look at how the business can improve its operational performance and energy efficiency through reduced usage of gas and utilising waste heat to generate electricity.

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP associate.

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.
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. 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 Breno 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.

The Aston University team will be led by Dr Muhammed Imran and Dr 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 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.

Commenting on the project, Dr Imran said: “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”.

Stephen Walters, director of Brockhouse Group Limited, said: “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.”


Notes to Editors

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a UK-wide programme that helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is a leading KTP provider, ranked fourth in terms of volume by Innovate UK, the National body.

This project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Watch our short film to see how it works and visit our website for examples of KTP in action at Aston.

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email [email protected] or call 0121 204 4242

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7825 342091 or email [email protected]