The Materials Processing Institute has appointed Professor John Fernie to head its recently formed Advanced Materials Group.

John has more than 30 years’ experience of managing research and development teams. This has included creating and implementing technology strategies and securing both grant-based and commercial funding from the UK, EU and the rest of the world.

The Advanced Materials Group draws upon the Teesside-based Institute’s expertise in metallurgy & materials science, thermodynamics, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. The aim being to develop the new materials and processes required for future technologies, including electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, clean energy and low carbon processing.

It is focused on scale up and improving production routes, right through to finished product. It is also investigating how existing materials, ranging from steel and other metals to ceramics and glasses, can be improved to increase quality and yields.

Previously John has worked for TWI (The Welding Institute) in Cambridge and AWE (the Atomic Weapons Establishment), in Aldermaston, as well as being a freelance technical consultant.

An experienced materials scientist and engineer, specialising in metallic and ceramic materials, he has worked with several industry sectors including defence, aerospace, chemical, oil and gas, energy, and power generation.

At AWE he acted as technical lead to several inorganic materials programmes including materials processing, the joining of materials and the immobilisation of nuclear waste. Last year he was appointed by Teesside University to work on strategy and projects relating to the hydrogen economy.

Whilst at AWE, John was the recipient of a Chief Scientific Advisor, Certificate of Commendation for “exceptional contribution to defence science”.

Chris McDonald, chief executive of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “We are fortunate to attract someone of John’s calibre and I’m delighted to welcome him to the Institute.”

“He has a wealth of experience in both industry and research and development and I’m confident that he can make a huge contribution to achieving the Institute’s strategy in this vital area of advanced materials.”

John, who is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining as well as a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey, added: “I’m more than pleased to join the Materials Processing Institute, which has a national and global reputation for research and innovation, and be a part of its mission to develop new and innovative materials.”

The Institute announced last autumn that it was strengthening its innovation strategy by focusing on four key emerging sectors: advanced materials, the circular economy, low carbon energy and digital technologies.

John takes over from James Taylor who was acting group manager during the recruitment process and has now taken up his research role in the Institute’s Low Carbon Energy Group.