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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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This project will create a new facility based at the University of Manchester which will support this growth. 

The ‘Multidisciplinary Characterisation Facility’ (MCF) will guide manufacturing design by using advanced technologies that illuminate the realistic conditions in which materials are used.  Working closely with partners, it will capture images of the way materials degrade in 2D, 3D and in 3D over time (so-called ‘4D’). 

The site of the facility will be at Manchester, but it will serve other UK academics and industrial partners. 

The facility will: 

  • Develop a base of knowledge that can be used to extend the lifetime of materials and components. This will directly address problems such as failure by corrosion, which, according to estimates, cost over $2.2 trillion each year.   
  • Guide the design of new materials and components that can operate safely under increasingly harsh conditions. This will help with the extraction of difficult-to-access oil and gas reservoirs, allow higher operating temperatures in aero-engines, and accelerate the move towards fourth-generation nuclear power plants.
  • Become a national asset for industry, and establish links with other manufacturing centres to help them develop advanced materials.
  • Support and grow UK businesses that produce and process materials across various manufacturing sectors.
  • Assist small and medium-sized enterprises by giving them access to state-of-the-art infrastructure that will allow them to react more quickly to technical challenges as they arise. 

The Multidisciplinary Characterisation Facility is initially supported by: BP plc; Rolls-Royce; AMEC; Sellafield; NNL; FEI Company; Xradia; Rapiscan Systems; AREVA; Westinghouse; and TiSiC.  

Page last updated 26 February 2015