I-SEC – International Stress Engineering Centre

Residual stress measurement techniques that will be available in I-SEC.

Residual stress measurement techniques that will be available in I-SEC.

I-SEC is an initiative to create an international stress engineering centre of excellence, offering global access to multiple residual stress measurement technologies, research and expertise. The plan includes building a new advanced neutron instrument and the world’s largest Contour Method measurement facility.

The Open University, in collaboration with the the ISIS Facility (STFC) and Coventry University, plan to establish an International Stress Engineering Centre (I-SEC) on the Harwell Campus offering access to:

  • Critical mass expertise in residual stress engineering
  • Unique stress measurement facilities
  • Underpinning research (targeted projects and core programme)
  • Knowledge transfer, CPD, training
  • Measurement services and consultancy.



Driving forward the UK’s global lead in stress engineering


  • 100+ businesses in UK need innovative solutions for dealing with hidden stresses
  • Limited stress engineering capability worldwide
  • Measurement capacity
    • Size limit = 0.5m x 0.5 tonne
    • Plummeting measurement capability (neutron days)

Plot of decreasing neutron diffraction global capability

    • Lack of knowledge
    • Shortage of skills

China (2016) is investing £48m to establish “I-SEC” at Dongguan


  • Demand from UK companies cannot be met
  • No UK capability to deal with large heavy structures (e.g. wind turbines and aircraft wings)

Photo of offshore wind turbines

  • UK industry will over-design structures and become uncompetitive
  • The UK will lose world lead in residual stress technology


  • Build I-SEC (UK) at Harwell by 2020 for Stress Engineering
    • Research hub
    • Training hub
    • Measurement hub featuring:
      • All stress & strain techniques
      • A new neutron instrument
      • The worlds largest wire EDM
        with a 5m x 5 tonne capability

Stress map on knee replacement prosthesis

  • I-SEC will enable and promote efficient design at lower cost
  • I-SEC will augment the UK’s unique capabilities giving a 25 year global reach



  • Nuclear (Civil & Defence)
  • Offshore Wind, Oil and Gas
  • Manufacturing (3D-printing, casting, machining, joining)
  • Shipbuilding, Construction
  • Automotive, Earthmoving
  • Aircraft, Jet engines, Space


  • ISIS Facility Users
  • Universities
  • Research Institutes
  • Catapult & Catalyst Centres

UK Society:

  • Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor
  • UK jobs & economy (>£2b pa)*
  • UK science and engineering

Our proposition

Measurement hub widget, residual stress measurement in welded pipe

Measurement Hub

  • providing co-located state-of-the-art facilities for measuring deformation, strain, stress and damage at the material micro-scale and in large structures
  • a new Engineering Neutron Beamline (ε-map) that increases the availability and capability of neutron stress measurement in Europe read more
  • measurement and consultancy services for business based on the pioneering methods developed and used at the centre

Research hub widget

Research Hub

  • to undertake a core programme of innovative fundamental and applied research
  • to undertake targeted research sponsored by industry
  • to foster an environment for knowledge sharing and international collaboration
  • to deliver impact, economic and societal benefits

Training hub widget: one-to-one training on the computer

Training Hub

  • to support remote experimental simulation, planning, execution, data analysis and interpretation of neutron and other measurements (including virtual e-infrastructure)
  • to deliver CPD courses, badged open courses, workshops and webinars to train engineers and scientists and inspire OU degree uptake
  • to widen participation and skills development through e-infrastructure and e-learning, linking with emerging HEIs in the developing world to inspire and train the next generation of engineering science neutron users and stress engineers and facilitate mobility of research staff and knowledge transfer to industry