from September 13, 2023 to October 15, 2024
Published on September 13, 2023 Updated on October 24, 2023

VUB EUTOPIA Project DurAMat Receives One of Five Prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Doctoral Network Grants

The European Commission has announced the results of the 2022 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Grants for Doctoral Programmes and Vrije University Brussels has won grand in the EUTOPIA Alliance. The Commission will fund a total of 149 excellent doctoral programmes with €429.4 million to train over 1650 doctoral candidates in and outside academia. 

Funding includes €47.5 million for 14 Industrial Doctoral programmes to train PhD candidates and develop their skills outside academia, including in industry and business. Doctoral candidates will also benefit from joint industry-academia supervision. It also includes €43.6 million for 12 Joint Doctoral programmes, which promote joint selection, training and supervision leading to joint or multiple doctoral degrees. The European Research Executive Agency (REA) received 946 applications for this call, the second under the Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation. This means a success rate of 15.8%. 

VUB professor Iris De Graeve is an expert in additive manufacturing and, alongside colleague Prof Herman Terryn, she has received the prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Doctoral Network Grant for the DurAMat project. Additive manufacturing or 3D printing of metals is a sustainable answer to our product-intensive society. It contributes to the creation of safer metals with longer lifespans in an ecologically and economically responsible way.  Despite the traditional manufacturing of metal products by assembling multiple parts, in additive manufacturing, one builds the product layer by layer in one step. “At the moment, broken products made of metal are thrown away and replaced with new products,” says De Graeve. “Ideally, they’d be recycled, but often they aren’t. Via additive manufacturing, you can reprint a broken piece onto the intact part. So we need fewer raw materials and can use our natural resources more sustainably. 

The objective of DurAMat according to De Graeve is to investigate various properties of the 3D printed metals, such as strength and corrosion, and then improve them. “We’re focusing on materials that are suitable for use in extreme conditions, such as in the maritime sector. Some PhD students will work experimentally and others will study material behaviour through modelling and machine learning methods, with the aim of being able to predict behaviour together over the longer term.” 

The students will work at five of the universities in the EUTOPIA alliance. “We deliberately looked for colleagues within EUTOPIA,” says De Graeve. “We’ve found interesting partners at NOVA University in Lisbon, Portugal, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, the Technische Universität Dresden in Germany and the University of Warwick in the UK. Thanks to the growing cooperation within EUTOPIA, I’ve also secured two EUTOPIA PhDs outside the DurAMat project with NOVA University.” 

The team at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium – Iris De Graeve, Herman Terryn, Reynier Revilla and Fatma Demir – steers the coordination of the DurAMat collaboration. They are accompanied by EUTOPIA partners represented by João Pedro Oliveira of NOVA University Lisbon, Mohsen Mirkhalaf of the University of Gothenburg, Axel Voigt of the Technische Universität Dresden, and James Kermode and Peter Brommer of the University of Warwick, which is an associated partner in the DurAMat project. 

Two leading research institutes are part of the beneficiary team of DurAMat, with Mikhail Zheludkevich, Sviatlana Lamaka and Christian Feiler of the German Helmholtz-Zentrum HEREON (in cooperation with the Christian-Albert Universiteit van Kiel for the PhD award), and Dominique Thierry of RISE in Sweden. Companies will also offer know-how and research training: GUARANTEED, OCAS and ELSYCA in Belgium, SANDVIK in Sweden, SMALLMATEK in Portugal and ENDURES in the Netherlands. 

Read more about DurAMat here