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Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Metals

Metallic materials play an important part in manufacturing and the economy. The UK metals industry comprises around 11,100 companies, employs 230,000 people, and directly contributes £10.7 billion to UK GDP. As a foundation industry, it underpins the competitive position of every industrial sector, including aerospace, automotive, construction, electronics, defence and general engineering. Transformation of the metals industry from the current largely linear economy to a circular economy plays a critical role in delivering the government’s industrial strategy for clean growth, doubling of resource productivity and reaching net zero carbon emissions in 2050.

The UKRI Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Metals aims to accelerate this transformation. The centre comprises a multidisciplinary academic team with a wide range of academic expertise and a strong industrial consortium involving the full metals supply chain. As an integral part of the national circular economy community, the project ambition is to make the UK the first country in the world to realise a full circular economy of metals by 2050.

As part of the Centre’s initiatives, UCL researchers are running the Big Repair Project citizen science study on UK household experiences of electronics and appliance repair. This project aims to support the changes needed to grow the UK’s electronics repair economy and to raise awareness about the issues of electronic waste.

Circuit boards

Further Information

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Circular Metals is led by Professor Zhongyun Fan (Brunel University London). It has four interconnected dimensions: economic, environmental, technological and societal, led by researchers at Brunel, UCL and Warwick.

The UCL team, led by Professor Mark Miodownik, will conduct research on the societal aspects of metals within a circular economy, specifically looking at citizen engagement with repair and recycling. Researchers will be collecting and analysing public attitudes and behaviours to reuse, repair and recycling of electronics and appliances using a citizen science approach. Work will also be done to analyse data on reuse, repair and recycling to calculate impact on metal circularity and net zero targets. We will also be working with partners and stakeholders to formulate policy recommendations to increase circular behaviours; and will lead public engagement on materials and society for the Centre. This will contribute to the work by the National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Hub (CE-Hub) and other circular economy centres. 

The project team maintain a strong media and online presence, as well as links to education and policy, which they will use to inform public debate and discourse on the vital role of metals in society.


Christian Partik

Doctoral Researcher

Christian is a PhD researcher at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the Circular Metals project team. He has a background in mechanical engineering and a research interest in self-repairing structures that will transform the way materials are used. His research focuses on the implementation of smart features (sensing, actuation, communication) into linkage fabric structures (fabrics consisting of single links that are connected). These fabrics could then self-redistribute forces and loads in their fabric when links are damaged or lost, making them self-repairable. He has a passion for making repair fairer and easier and is interested in revolutionising how we see and use materials in our daily lives.

Polina Pencheva

Research Fellow

Polina is a whole-systems thinker and an architect. She believes that collaboration and coordinated action are the key to unlocking the multiple complex systems challenges in working towards circular economy, net zero and climate change adaptation. She is a research fellow with the Net Zero What Works group at UCL STEaPP and on our UKRI Circular Metals project. In architectural practice, she has over ten years of experience leading multidisciplinary teams in the design and physical delivery of large-scale projects in housing, mixed-use and commercial sectors. Through practice and her role in business management, she developed a strong research interest in how industry is working towards and measuring its progress against the UN Sustainability Goals. This includes Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) frameworks and methods for gathering, recording, and sharing project data on embodied and operational carbon; sustainable land use and ecology; sustainable water cycle; sustainable connectivity and transport; sustainable communities and social value; good health and wellbeing; sustainable life cycle costing and circularity of materials. Polina teaches sustainable design, practice and project management in the UK.

Danielle Purkiss

Research Fellow

Danielle is an architect interested in material culture, technology and circular economy design, and Head of Research and Development at the Institute of Making. She is a Research Fellow on our UKRI Circular Metals and UKRI Compostable Plastics projects where she leads citizen science and material systems design research. Prior to this Danielle was a Research Fellow on our previous UKRI Plastics Research and Innovation Fund project, Designing out Plastic Waste. She completed her architecture training at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture and London Metropolitan University and has since created several award-winning designs across housing, workspace and education sectors. She teaches about circular economy design in the UK and internationally.