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Mechanical Engineering: Fully Funded EPSRC and ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship: Understanding the fatigue behaviour of tidal turbine blades

Closing date: 30 June 2020

Key Information

This scholarship is funded by EPSRC and ORE Catapult.

Start date: October 2020

Subject areas: Engineering/Materials Science/Computational Mechanics

Project description: 

Tidal turbines are made of composite materials, where they are reinforced by carbon or glass fibres. Composites are natural choices over metals because they can be formed into complex shapes and have fatigue tolerance, corrosion resistance and damage tolerance, particularly in harsh operating environments such as subsea conditions. It is vitally important to fully understand the loads that tidal turbines will experience and to design against potential failure mechanisms. Tidal turbines are prone to various failure mechanisms such as micro-cracks, delamination between fibres and matrix resins, chemical and physical aging from salinity, bio-fouling, etc. Among these phenomena, water ingress due to diffusion under submerged conditions makes them seriously vulnerable to reduced service life. In order to understand the fatigue life in subsea environments, the so-called accelerated hygrothermal aging technique is applied where the aging experiments, to account for the seawater ingress, are conducted at an elevated temperature under submerged conditions. Such a technique helps to understand the aging kinetics within a specified short time period of 2-3 years instead of a real test of 20-25 years long. However, it is not clear if experiments at elevated temperature replicate the ideal conditions of aging for a long time period.

This research aims to predict the effects of aging by a de-coupled approach in order to understand the fatigue failure behaviour of tidal turbine blades made of fibre-reinforced composites. For this, essential experiments such as three-point, four-point flexural and biaxial fatigue tests will be conducted in submerged conditions under ambient and elevated temperatures. Furthermore, the same tests will be performed in air under ambient and elevated temperatures.  Numerical methods have already proved successful in simulating crack growths and various failure mechanisms. Based on experimental findings, continuum-based coupled models will be developed and validated to guide design techniques in the future to minimize the number of expensive structural tests that need to be performed.

The experimental facet will primarily be based in the Swansea University’s College of Engineering, Bay Campus. Some experiments may be conducted in collaboration with IFREMER, France (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea).

Project supervisors: Dr Mokarram Hossain (Primary), Professor Ian Masters (Second)

Available resources/facilities:  Biaxial fatigue test machine under submerged conditions, relevant software (ABAQUS, ANSYS, etc.).

Eligibility

Candidates should hold a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree (or its equivalent) in in Engineering or Materials Science or similar relevant discipline (Mechanical/Civil/Material Engineering/Computational Engineering/Mechanics). 

Good knowledge in nonlinear mechanics and computer programming (C/FORTRAN/MATLAB) are highly desirable.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit – http://www.swansea.ac.uk/admissions/english-language-requirements/

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding

This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009 for 4 years. Stipend and tuition fees are available to EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for 3 years. EU applicants not meeting this condition are eligible for tuition fees only. 

There will be additional funds available for research expenses including conferences and travel.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete and submit the following documents to Dr Mokarram Hossain (mokarram.hossain@swansea.ac.uk):

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Dr Mokarram Hossain (mokarram.hossain@swansea.ac.uk).