13 July 2020

Celebrating 40 years of the Quarrell Laboratory

It is home to many memorable experiences for undergraduates and significant scientific discoveries. The largest lab in the Sir Robert Hadfield Building was officially named the Quarrell Laboratory on 18 July 1980 after a former Head of Department.

1000 ton quick acting press installed in the Quarrell Laboratory

This week marks the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Quarrell Laboratory located in the Sir Robert Hadfield Building.

This facility is an integral part of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, used across a range of teaching and research activities. At the present time, the lab is where the undergraduate aluminium casting, phase diagram and glass melting practical sessions take place and contains state-of-the-art additive manufacturing facilities which are used across both the Henry Royce Institute and MAPP (Manufacturing Using Advanced Powder Processing) Hub research centres.

There are also welding bays, a mini rolling mill, heat treatment furnaces and arc melting furnaces which are essential pieces of kit for many researchers within the department.

Professor Quarrell’s concept was that the Department should be able to make, shape and characterise any materials, and this was the major facility for making and shaping. When it was first opened, the lab contained a 1,000 ton quick acting press, which required significant foundations and access below the machine. This is one of the reasons that the ground floor of the Hadfield Building is denoted a C Floor, the other being that it is built into a hill. The lab also contained heavy equipment needed for metal melting and casting, heat treatment and mechanical working, including a thixoforming press, which was the only one of its kind in the UK, supporting research in Semi-Solid Processing of High Melting Point alloys and composites. In the basement, creep and fatigue testing facilities were located.

1000 ton quick acting press installed in the Quarrell Laboratory
The Materials Testing Laboratory in the Sir Robert Hadfield Building
The 1,000 ton quick acting press The corner of the materials testing laboratory

The Quarrell Laboratory is named after Professor Arthur G Quarrell, who was Chair of Metallurgy and Head of the Department of Metallurgy at the University of Sheffield from 1955, having been Acting Head since 1950. As such, he was Head of Department when the Sir Robert Hadfield Building was opened. He held this position until 1969, eventually retiring in 1976.

Professor A G Quarrell (third from right)
Photo of the Department of Metallurgy with Prof Arthur G Quarrell front row right of centre
Professor Arthur G Quarrell (third from right) Professor Quarrell (front row, right of centre) c.1950 with the staff of the Department of Metallurgy

Quarrell was influential in the development of Metallurgy teaching and research at the University of Sheffield. He had foreseen the need for accelerating the understanding and development of metals and alloys, well beyond the capability of existing University buildings, for improvements in materials’ production and refinement to tailor their properties to withstand new and demanding conditions that included those arising in aerospace, frames and jet engines, nuclear power, pipelines for transportation of fuels, large structures and, at the other end of the scale, almost defect-free, ultra-pure single crystals for electronic devices.

He therefore introduced a significant amount of then state-of-the-art technology into the laboratories so that students and researchers could work at the cutting edge of the discipline and develop the world-leading reputation that the Department deserved.

Plaque commemorating the naming of the Quarrell Laboratory in the Sir Robert Hadfield Building

The Quarrell Laboratory was opened on 18 July 1980 to recognise the contribution that Professor Quarrell made to the development of the Department. This 40th Anniversary coincides with the Department taking ownership of the new Royce Discovery Centre, which, like the Quarrell Laboratory, will extend the capabilities of the Department and keep it at the forefront of materials research and development.