Professor Hongbiao Dong

Prof Hongbiao Dong is internationally renowned for his work in metal processing, manufacturing informatics, solidification and its application in casting, welding and additive manufacturing of metals and alloys (3D-printing of metal).


Professor of Materials Engineering
Research Chair of Royal Academy of Engineering
Science Director of EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Innovative Metal Processing
Science Director of TWI-UOL Materials Innovation Centre
Director of NISCO UK Research Centre


Personal details

I joined the School of Engineering at the University of Leicester in 2004 as Lecturer, was promoted to Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor. I obtained my BEng and MEng degrees from University of Science and Technology Beijing, and my DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2000.


I teach and research in

  • Aerospace materials
  • Processing of engineering materials
  • Multi-scale and multi physics modelling of casting and welding
  • Gas turbines
  • Physical metallurgy
  • Synchrotron X-ray
  • Neutron diffraction and imaging

The research in my team aims to bring knowledge-inspired decision making to the production routes of high value-added components, such as aero-engine turbine blades, deep-sea oil and gas transport systems. I am a specialist in metal processing, in particular in the areas of processing Ni-base alloys for gas turbine engines, welding techniques for deep sea gas and oil transportation systems. I have expertise in experimential and modelling study of structure evolution and defect formation during casting and welding. Experimental expertise includes industrial scale casting, welding and the application of synchrotron and neutron diffraction/imaging of structure and stress during metal processing; my modelling expertise ranges from atomistic-scale materials modelling to macro-scale casting and components life prediction.

As a part of his RAEng Research Chair mission, I am leading a project to establish a joint UOL-TWI Materials Innovation Centre (MatIC). The MatIC Centre will exploit Leicester’s research strengths in materials, physical metallurgy, welding and joining technologies which, combined with TWI’s members, will deliver funded, high quality, high impact collaborative research.

I am also currently leading an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Innovative Metal Processing (IMPaCT CDT). There are also 16 fully funded PhD scholarships available at EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Innovative Metal Processing. For more information, please visit the IMPaCT website and apply online.

I have collaborated extensively with industry, working with Rolls-Royce, TWI Ltd, NPL and Doncasters. Current projects focus on single crystal casting of gas turbine components, welding and heat treatment of linepipes for deep sea gas and oil transportation system.

      • Research Chair of Royal Academy of Engineering, sponsored by TWI (2016-2021)
      • Director of EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Innovative Metal Processing ( (2014-2022)
      • Royal Society Industry Fellow, hosted by Rolls-Royce Plc (2006-2008)
      • Member of EPSRC Peer Review College (2014 - )
      • Chair of ISIS Engineering User Committee, Scientific and Technology Facility Council (2015 - )
      • Member of Board of Review (key reader) for Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A. (2012 - )
      • Member of the Steering Committee of EuMaT (European Technology Platform on Advanced Engineering Materials and Technologies) (2010 - )
      • Founder and Chairman of UK-China Steel Research Forum, Pictures of the 1st UK-China Steel Forum at Leicester, Cambridge (2012, 2014, 2016 - )
      • Council member of East Midland Branch of Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) (2008 - )
      • Guest Professor at Tsinghua University, University of Science and Technology Beijing, Northwestern Polytechnic University, Tiayuan University of Technology, Yangzhou University, Jiangsu University, Chongqing University


        • EG2070 Engineering Design
        • EG2150 Processing of Engineering Materials
        • EG4021 Design Study Management (I) / EG4022 Design Study Management (II)
        • EG4360 Aerospace Materials / EG7038 Aerospace Materials
        • EG4401 Holistic Gas Turbine Design (in collaboration with the Rolls-Royce design team, in preparation)


        Visit my publications page.


        My research focuses on materials and advanced manufacturing for energy generation and transportation applications, in particular solidification and its application in casting, welding and additive manufacturing of high temperature materials.

        Current major projects

        Data-driven modelling for the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in metal processing
        In recent years, materials and metallurgical industry has rationalized its production operations through the introduction of computer systems. To derive better performance from the computer systems, the industry has been developing applications of artificial intelligence (AI). In the field of process control, AI has come to be used in various ways to supplement conventional control systems, with tangible results. Our research covers the fundamental aspects of the application of AI in materials and metallurgical industry, including developing new AI methods for rapid prediction of current or future process states in manufacturing processes and to integrate production data and simulation output, and the Informed Value-of-Information for capital investment (sensors, simulation, experiments).
        Available research projects include: developing fast-running simulations models for steel making process through AI is proposed for the iron and steel industry to correlate the chemistry, process, structure and product performance.


        Laser additive manufacturing of very-high temperature niobium silicide-based alloys

        Niobium silicide-based alloys, in the application of gas turbine blades, promise significant efficiency improvements compared to current Ni-based alloys. The higher temperature capability would allow the engine to run at a higher temperature than that of current alloys, increasing engine efficiency. Nb-Si based alloys possess a lower density, due to the presence of ceramic phases such as Nb5Si3 and/or Nb3Si. This would reduce the weight of the rotating blades. However, improvements in certain properties, such as ductility, room temperature toughness and oxidation resistance are needed. The alloy must also be cost effective to manufacture if niobium silicide systems are to reach their full potential. This study focuses on the manufacturability aspect of the powder feeding laser additive manufacturing (LAM) process to engineering Nb-Si based alloy samples. Inlaser additive manufacturing (LAM) process, CAD models of the components are constructed and sliced layer by layer for laser multilayer cladding, which directly forms the component shapes. LAM has the advantage of forming near-net shapes without the use of expensive cores and moulds for the reactive Nb-Si melt. Fine microstructure and even chemical composition distribution with reduced macro-segregation are obtained. With the use of power feeding system, new Nb-Si based alloys are LAMed with varying Ti, Si, Cr, Al, Hf, V concentrations.

        Materials and processing techniques for aero-engine turbine components

        This area of research has been carried out with collaborators from Rolls-Royce, Universities of Cambridge and Birmingham. It aims to bring knowledge-inspired decision making to production routes of aero-engine turbine blades. As an example, by detailed examination of modelling results, I originated a patent for producing new single crystals with finer microstructures - a technique is being taken forward by industry. The new processing route results in not only saving manufacturing costs but also leading to new materials with higher performance. Current research projects in this area include:

        1. Development of novel 2-dimentional grain selectors for selecting single crystal during casting
        2. Characterising and eliminating or reducing surface defects in single-crystal turbine blades
        3. Development of materials thermophysical properties database of Ni-base alloys for advanced processing

        Welding techniques for deep-sea/sub-sea oil and gas transportation systems

        The demand for deep-sea oil and gas supply is increasing due to the higher demand on energy and security of energy supply. The pipelines for transporting oil and gas are constructed by joining high strength steel linepipes that are produced through the UOE process involving seam welding (UOE linepipes are produced by forming and seam welding steel plates. UOE stands for the main forming operations involved: U-ing, O-ing and Expanding. Seam welding is performed after O-ing and before pipe Expanding.). Therefore how to achieve a defect-free seam weld with favourable microstructure and properties in UOE linepipe production is of vital importance to the pipelines especially to be laid at deep and ultra-deep waters. The current project is designed with a view to addressing these issues in terms of microstructure evolution and defect formation and avoidance during linepipe seam welding from the first principles, and meanwhile delivering a computer based system for practical applications.

        Atomistics of pre-nucleation phenomena of liquid metal

        X-Ray crystal truncation rod(CTR) scattering methods  and automatics models are developed to detect in-situ the pre nucleation phenomena of liquid Al at the interface with sapphire, which represents a nucleation substrate for metal. The measured structure factors of the CTR are interpreted to identify the atomic arrangement near the surface. Analysis of the phenomena kinetics reveals the pre nucleation liquid layering to be an adsorption process driven by interfacial energy reduction.

        Multi-scale Multi-physics Modelling of solidification

        By using dynamic adaptive meshing (DAM) algorithm, DAM allows great increases in computational efficiency, making possible simulations of microstructures that are accurately resolved down to tens of nanometers at the solid-liquid interface. Therefore DAM can simulate large-scale solidification microstructures in parameter regimes previously inaccessible through conventional fixed-grid techniques, enabling a complete description of solidification.

        Past major projects

        FP7 Collaborative project on modelling of interface evolution in advanced welding (MIntweld)

        I led a consortium for an European Framework (FP7) project. This 4-year multi-million euro research project started in September 2009 and ended in November 2014. The project developed an accurate, predictive, and cost-effective modelling tool that could find widespread application in the relevant European metals industry for penetrating novel markets of high economic and strategic importance, an essential task to ensure that Europe maintains its competitiveness. The consortium includes well known academic partners:

        • University of Leicester UK - Coordinator
        • University College Dublin Ireland
        • University of Oxford UK
        • NTNU Norway
        • Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
        • Delft University of Technology Netherlands
        • the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland

        plus partners representing the major European steel industries CORUS UK, The Welding Institute UK, Institute of Welding Poland, and FRENZAK Sp. Poland.

        MintWeld was assessed 'Excellent' for both Research and Development and management.

        For more on:

        • Our team members, visit the members page
        • Team contact details, visit the contacts page

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