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Professor Richard Clegg has a very unusual job,
working as a forensic engineer. While a forensic
scientist carefully analyses a dead body at a crime
scene, Clegg examines large-scale broken industrial
equipment, conducting meticulous detective work to
deter mine the cause of the failure.
Clegg, who is also a metallurgist, founded and
equipped the Industrial Materials Science laboratory at
the Process Engineering & Light Metals (PELM) Centre at
CQUniversity. He procured state-of-the-art equipment
so researchers can analyse corrosion, fatigue, fracture
and wear-and-tear of material used in industrial
"Basically my job is to understand how and why
mechanical equipment breaks down and to prevent it
happening in future by looking at the cause of cracks and
fractures," Clegg says. "Sometimes there is a fault in the
equipment's manufacture or it's been abused."
As the director of the PELM Centre, Clegg and his
team of postgraduate and doctoral students are now
involved in many diverse mining and mineral processing
projects across Queensland.
One of these projects involves examining cor rosion
of equipment in alumina refineries which use very
hot caustic soda with steel equipment. Alumina is the
precursor of aluminium and Gladstone has the world's
MEET THE FORENSIC INVESTIGATOR
Metallurgist Richard Clegg is a detective of sorts, discovers M H .
largest and second largest refineries.
"One of the main reasons companies want us to
do this research is to prevent industrial accidents,"
Clegg says. He has investigated machinery after a
double fatality at the Watson Oil Field, a bucket wheel
excavator failure at Moranbah and slur ry pump failures
at alumina refineries.
One of Clegg's other projects is with the CAST
Co-operative Research Centre in conjunction with the
University of Queensland, and Monash and Swinburne
Universities, looking at magnesium alloys joining
behaviour. " is research has the potential to create
material to build lightweight cars," Clegg says.
In addition to his work at CQUniversity, Clegg
has a specialist consultancy which investigates the
engineering reasons for medical device failures. In recent
years he has been an expert witness in a series of cases
for Queensland Health which involved a failed female
Clegg first discovered that his metal engineering
expertise had a medical application while at University
College London. It was there that he worked with
a team of experts designing and developing a
titanium skin-penetrating electrical connector which
was part of a Digital Signal Processor for a cochlear
impla nt system. ■
➊ The Process
(PELM) Centre is
a joint venture
needs of Central
is the Editor-
in-Chief of the
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