Leading Steel making Expert Awarded for his Expertise

Swansea University leading researcher Dr David Penney has been recognised for his outstanding work in the field of iron and steel.

Associate Professor David Penney, College of Engineering, has been given the much coveted Frank Fitzgerald personal achievement award by the IOM3 (Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) at a time when the steel making industry in the UK is reaching crisis point.

Extremely active, not just in the steel making process but also through the supply chain with customers and suppliers, David has demonstrated excellence in many fields including galvanising and coatings as illustrated by his work within industry and subsequently within academia.

David is an author and co-author of international papers and has continued to demonstrate his commitment to the industry as well as academia by successfully securing £25M in funding for EngD and Masters Research programmes within the iron and steel industry in 2015. This has allowed Tata Steel to continue to work closely with academia and build on the success of previous doctoral centres.

Dr Penney has also demonstrated his expertise in the field of corrosion, illustrated by the pioneering research he has carried out on zinc coatings, including Galfan and MagiZinc as well as hot-dipped galvanised zinc products. The use of the SVET with time-lapse microscopy has allowed the corrosion behaviour of zinc-magnesium alloys to be understood, which has a direct correlation with processing conditions in industry and consequently product application. This is critical for automotive applications and the success of industry within the UK.

In addition to his teaching and research work David is also the Co-director of the Materials and Manufacturing Academy at Swansea University, College of Engineering and Co-founder of the EPSRC funded COATED2 Centre for Doctoral Training. He has also contributed to the success of the South Wales Materials Association (SWMA) working with industry and academia. Lecture attendances went up under his guidance with a record achievement of 164 at the lecture "Materials Matters". In March 2014 the IOM3 awarded the SWMA with the title of "Large Society of the Year", an award he should be rightly proud of obtaining under his leadership.

Professor Steven Brown, Head of the College of Engineering

Dr Penney’s award is timely as Swansea University led innovations are already demonstrating that steel is a 21st century industry, with academics and the industry working hand in hand on tomorrow’s technologies.  Examples include:

  • New steel-based products which turn buildings into power stations that store and release their own energy
  • Using nano-level technology to develop lighter steel for more energy-efficient cars
  • Improving the way blast furnaces are loaded and stirred, already saving over £5 million a year at Port Talbot

Wales can continue to lead the world in steel innovation that is why Swansea University has called for the backing of a new proposal for a national innovation and technology centre for steel.

The proposed National Innovation Centre would be called Sustain: (Strategic University Steel Technology and Innovation Network).  A partnership between industry and university-based experts, building on what already exists at Swansea, it could be a resource for the entire UK steel industry, and a global centre of expertise for 21st century steel.  

Swansea University is ideally placed to lead Sustain.  It has world-leading engineering expertise and facilities at its new Bay Campus.  It’s Materials and Manufacturing Academy has 84 research engineers in the steel industry.  Over 120 graduate and doctoral qualified technologists from Swansea are currently working in the Welsh steel businesses alone.


  • For more information on the Sustain proposal go to http://tinyurl.com/hxjhnxn
  • For more information about IOM3 and the full list of award winners go to http://www.iom3.org/iom3-awards-2016
  • For more information about the College of Engineering go to http://www.swansea.ac.uk/engineering/
  • Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university.  The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK.  It currently offers around 330 undergraduate courses and 120 postgraduate courses to 16,800 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The University’s 46-acre Singleton Park Campus is located in beautiful parkland with views across Swansea Bay.  The University’s 65-acre science and innovation Bay Campus, which opened in September 2015, is located a few miles away on the eastern approach to the city. It has the distinction of having direct access to a beach and its own seafront promenade.  Both campuses are close to the Gower Peninsula, the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 showed the University has achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK, with the ‘biggest leap among research-intensive institutions’ (Times Higher Education, December 2014) in the UK.

The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020, as it continues to extend its global reach and moves closer to realising its ambition of being a top 200 Global University.

Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit www.swansea.ac.uk

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