Our Experts

Two of our Professors within the Faculty of Applied Sciences are leading materials experts.

Professor Ahmed Elmarakbi

Professor Ahmed Elmarakbi
Ahmed obtained his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada (2004). After successful postdoctoral fellowships in Canada and Japan, he moved to the University of Sunderland, UK in 2007, where he is, currently, Professor of Automotive Composites. His research interests lie in the area of energy-efficient and safe vehicles (EESVs) including advanced composite materials, including Graphene, for automotive applications and low carbon vehicles.

His work outcomes are recognised both nationally and internationally as evident from his 70+ Plenary Lectures, invited talks and presentations; 130+ peer-reviewed research papers. Most recently (2013), he has published the book: “Advanced Composite Materials for Automotive Applications: Structural Integrity and Crashworthiness”, Wiley, UK.

He has 15 years of experience managing national and international projects, including multi-disciplinary collaborative projects with Europe, USA, Canada, China, Japan, and Brazil. He has received many prestigious awards and grants world-wide, including EU Graphene Flagship, Horizon2020, EPSRC, NSERC, JSPS, OGS, FP7, and several fellowships. He is expert reviewer for FP7 and EPSRC; member of several professional bodies; editorial-board member of high-impact international journals; organiser of international conferences and reviewer for conferences and many high-impact journals.  He is also founder Editor-in-Chief of ‘International Journal of Automotive Composites. He has an extensive track record of collaboration with the automotive industry and world-class academic institutions over the last 15 years and he is currently a member of the EU Graphene Flagship.

Recent Publications and further research information

Professor Alan Wheatley

Professor Alan Wheatley
Alan has been actively involved with advanced materials for over 30 years.  His main work is in the field of polymers and polymer-matrix composites. One major strand of this work relates to the development of low cost carbon fibre for automotive applications.  Essentially, this work aims to remove the barriers to the widespread adoption of carbon fibre in mainstream automobiles. To this end, he is the UK representative on the International Energy Agency (IEA) executive committee for “Advanced Materials for Transportation Applications”. He works closely with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the USA and contributes to their Low Cost Carbon Fibre research activities. The low cost carbon fibre research has led to a number of collaborative publications between ORNL and the University of Sunderland.  Two such recent publications are cited below:

Wheatley A, Warren C D and Das S (2014): Development of Low-Cost Carbon Fibre for Automotive Applications, Advanced Composite Materials for Automotive Applications: Structural Integrity and Crashworthiness, 1st Edition, Edited by Ahmed Elmarakbi.

Wheatley A, Warren C D and Das S (2014): Low-Cost Carbon Fibre: Applications, Performance and Cost Models, Advanced Composite Materials for Automotive Applications: Structural Integrity and Crashworthiness, 1st Edition, Edited by Ahmed Elmarakbi.

The benefits of the adoption of such high-performance lightweight materials into automotive structures include (i) increased structural integrity and (ii) increased fuel efficiency.  The drawback is, inevitably, cost. The resulting cost-benefit analysis is the basis of many materials selection issues in the automotive field.  This is why Formula One cars and modern aircraft are built predominantly from carbon fibre, but most current generation cars are not. However, the quest for even lighter, stiffer and stronger materials does not end with carbon fibre. Recent developments in advanced materials, such as the discovery of graphene, have the potential to make cars, trucks and aircraft stiffer, stronger, lighter and more fuel-efficient than ever before.  Graphene is the the thinnest, strongest material known – 200 times stronger than steel. Research work is ongoing at Sunderland to determine how best to exploit the properties of this new “wonder material”.

Additional Publications and further research information


This page was published on 9 May 2016