PhD & Postgraduate Research

Research projects leading to the award of a PhD or Masters by Research are available in many areas of Engineering.

Academic staff with international reputations in their discipline are available to supervise and guide you, and we offer appropriate research training, library and electronic resources. Research within Engineering is organised into five research groups, which in turn contain more specialised research subgroups. The groups are led by permanent academic staff and usually supported by postdoctoral research associates and technicians. You will become an integral part of these teams and benefit from intellectual support and become part of the research environment of the Department. For both PhD and Masters by Research, the results of your research should make an original contribution to knowledge and be of a standard appropriate for publication.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select ‘Create a new application’ from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s) which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all Lancaster University Engineering postgraduate programmes using this method.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying. For transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required.
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree.
  • You also need to complete a research proposal which should include the following:
    • the research area you are interested in
    • the research question(s) you are specifically interested in
    • who within Engineering appears best qualified to supervise you
    • the methods you envisage using in your studies
    • plus any other information which may be relevant
  • Two references
  • If English is not your first language, we require copies of English language test results.

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but we encourage you to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, July start date will be considered. An MSc by Research will usually start in October. If you wish to be considered for funding, are applying form overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend you apply as early as possible.

If you would like more information before applying, please contact the Engineering Admission Office. If you have any queries during the application process, please contact our Postgraduate Admissions Team.

PhD Supervisors

A range of projects available in Mid-Infrared Photonics, III-V Nanostructures and Quantum Dot Solar Cells

View Peter's profile

Simulation and fabrication of lattice/composite structures Detection of beta radiation due to presence of waterborne tritium

View David's profile

Electrochemical treatment of problematic wastes in the nuclear industry

View Richard's profile

Nuclear fuel cycles, Extraction of uranium from seawater, Molten salt reactors, Fuel and nuclear safety, Actinides in the environments, Nuclear material analysis.

View Claude's profile

Analysis of engineering materials; Development of mechanical meta-materials;

View Xiaonan's profile

Nuclear safeguards, contamination monitoring.

View Malcolm's profile

The following project opportunities are currently un-funded Design of photo-bio reactors for platform chemicals production Acidogenic digestion of organic waste for chemicals production Modelling of sedimentation for the characterisation of suspensions A new quantitative framework for the characterisation of wastewater

View Alastair's profile

I am constantly searching for highly qualified PhD candidates in the area of acoustic signal processing and control. Please email your CV along with other academic qualificatios if you are interested.

View Allahyar's profile

Dr. Murphy has PhD projects available in: 1. Safer nuclear fuels for a sustainable future (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/social-futures/2018/03/safer-nuclear-fuels-for-a-sustainable-world-fully-funded-phd-studentship-3-year-in-engineering-department/) 2. Atomistic study of radiation induced degradation of thermal conductivity in fusion materials

View Samuel's profile

Millimetre wave vacuum electron devices design and fabrication

View Claudio's profile

Smart Materials for Nuclear Waste Immobilisation
Condition Monitoring of Power Cables in Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs)
Smart Sensors for Condition Monitoring of Concrete Structures

View Mohamed's profile

Control Engineering, System Identification and Robotics.

View James's profile

Post-processing of powder bed additive manufactured components; Micro-fabrication of terahertz microwave components

View Yingtao's profile

Join our Graduate Training Programme at Lancaster University

Research training

We take care of all of our students at Lancaster University. The Faculty of Science and Technology runs a series of training sessions designed to improve your skills and abilities during your PhD.

Learn more

Research Areas

Our research is recognised for its exceptional quality and international reputation and is supported by RCUK, EU and industry funding. As a result, our work crosscuts traditional research fields, is strongly multidisciplinary and focuses on achieving high impact. We have contributed substantially to a wide range of application domains including energy, transport, cyber-crime and social computing.

Outstanding facilities

Our Engineering building opened in January 2015 and was purpose-built to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. It boasts state-of-the-art facilities for multi-disciplined engineering, with specially designed workshops, laboratories and a high-quality attractive working environment. Students can now work in a variety of ways outside of the traditional learning environment which enhances the quality of our students' experience.

Current Funded Opportunities

  • Fully Funded PhD Studentship: Carbon foams and hydrogen from zero emission fossil fuels

    Supervisors: Dr Nuno Bimbo and Dr Richard Dawson, Engineering Department, and Prof Mark Shackleton, LUMS

     
    A four-year fully funded PhD studentship for UK/EU citizens is available at the Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre for Materials Social Futures to start in October 2019. The focus of the project is on the synthesis of carbon foams from zero emission fossil fuels.

    Background: Recently, it was shown that hydrogen can be produced from methane using molten metals, which convert methane into hydrogen and carbon with no production of CO2. The method consists of using a molten metal alloy system, in which active catalysts such as Ni, Pt or Pd are dissolved in low-melting temperature metals such as In, Ga, Sn or Pb. It was shown that methane could reach a conversion as high as 95% at 1065 °C when using a Ni-Bi alloy, producing pure hydrogen and carbon. The produced carbon is insoluble in the liquid metal alloy and floats to the surface, making it easier to separate. This is an extremely exciting prospect, as it would allow the production of hydrogen from fossil fuels with no carbon dioxide emissions. To close the loop, the generated solid carbon could be used as a precursor to value-added commodities or materials, and could displace carbon emissions resulting from those.

    Project: This PhD project will investigate the production of hydrogen using molten catalyst methods, focussing on the possible uses of the generated solid carbon, particularly the synthesis of carbon foams. Carbon foams are carbon materials with macropores connected in an open cell structure, usually synthesised from precursor resins or from templated carbonisation of carbon precursors. Carbon foams have also been produced from compression of graphite or from the assembly of graphene nanosheets. They have found many applications, including as electrodes or adsorbent materials, and their thermal properties have made them candidates for uses in thermal management applications, including in power electronics and as materials for heat exchangers. They have also been suggested as potential construction materials and were considered a good candidate for structural applications.

    The project will design a process for the manufacture of carbon foams obtained from the catalytic decomposition of fossil fuels (oils or gases), such that the hydrogen can be stored for later use and the carbon can be used as a precursor for carbon foam production. This will require investigating different catalyst alloys, designing separation methods that allow the removal of the solid carbon and investigating synthesis routes for carbon foams from the generated solid carbon. The project will also investigate ways of designing a process so that the waste heat from the exothermic catalytic process can be harvested for energy conversion or for the synthesis of carbon foams.

    Person specification: The project would be ideally suited for a student with a background in physical sciences or engineering, especially in Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science, with laboratory experience and with interests in clean and sustainable technologies. The supervisors for the project are Dr Nuno Bimbo (n.bimbo@lancaster.ac.uk) and Dr Richard Dawson (r.dawson@lancaster.ac.uk), both at Engineering, and Prof Mark Shackleton, at LUMS (m.shackleton). Informal enquiries about the project to the supervisors are more than welcome.  To apply, please complete the University's application form via the link below, submitting it together with a CV and motivation letter with the subject “Carbon foams PhD”.

    Application deadline and start date

    The deadline for applications is the 5th July and the project is scheduled to start in October 2019.

    How to apply for the PhD Programme

    Lancaster University – ensuring equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity. Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Development of tritium release model for advanced Li8PbO6 breeder materials for compact spherical tokamaks
    • PhD Supervisors: Dr Samuel T. Murphy, Lecturer in Nuclear Materials
    • Start date: 1st October 2019
    • Deadline for applications: 9th August 2019
    • Funding: Covers full payment of UK/EU tuition fees (at the standard RCUK rate) and an annual tax-free stipend of £15,009 (which will increment yearly) for 4 years
    • Hours: Full Time
    • Eligibility: UK and EU Students

    Summary

    This project will employ a mixture of atomistic simulation techniques (DFT and MD) to create a tritium release model for Li8PbO6.

    Background

    The proposed research will accelerate the development of advanced ceramic breeder materials for compact spherical tokamaks in support of Tokamak Energy’s path to developing faster fusion.


    An understanding of the tritium mobility will enable the development of strategies to limit tritium retention, thereby ensuring maximum tritium production to sustain the fusion plasma. The subtle interactions between tritium atoms and defects present in the ceramic matrix will ultimately determine the rate of tritium release from the crystal. However, the nature of the defects in the material will change as the material ages and so it is critical that we understand the tritium release process across the material’s lifetime. 

    Development of ceramic breeder materials for ITER and DEMO has so far focused on two key candidate materials, lithium metatitanate (Li2TiO3) and lithium orthosilicate (Li4SiO4). However, recent work has indicated that the high lithium density and excellent tritium release characteristics (at least in the stoichiometric material) mean that octalithium plumbate (Li8PbO6) is an interesting possible replacement for Li2TiO3 and Li4SiO4 for use in spherical tokamaks. Therefore, this work will look to create a tritium release model to support development of this breeder material for compact spherical tokamaks.

    Contact Us

    We very much welcome informal queries about this opportunity, which should be directed to Dr Samuel Murphy.

    How to apply

    Please apply online via the University Postgraduate Admissions Portal with:

    • A CV (2 pages maximum)
    • Cover letter
    • University grade transcripts (where available) 

    You should clearly state on your application that you are applying for a funded PhD opportunity on 'Development of tritium release model for advanced Li8PbO6 breeder materials for compact spherical tokamaks'.

    Lancaster University - ensuring equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity.

  • A fully-funded PhD Studentship in A novel coating technology based upon polyatomic ions from plasma
    • PhD Supervisor: Dr Tim Douglas, Lecturer in Bio-Chemical Engineering
    • Deadline for applications: 30th April 2019
    • Start date: 1st October 2019

    We wish to recruit a full-time research associate for 3 years, starting in October 2019. You will work with Dr Timothy E.L. Douglas at the Engineering Department and the Materials Science Institute (MSI) at Lancaster University, applying plasma technology to produce novel coatings for applications in biomedical and life sciences (BLS) and perform their physiochemical characterization. You will also perform microbiological characterization of such coatings under the guidance of Prof. Roger Pickup (Division of Biomedicine), Dr Glenn Rhodes (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) and Dr Achyut Guleri (Blackpool Hospital Trust).

    Candidate requirements

    You must hold a good first degree in a relevant subject (Physics, Chemistry, Material Science or Engineering), or be able to demonstrate significant practical experience with the generation and characterization of coatings.

    Funding Details

    This project is funded by Lancaster University but supported by an EPRSC grant. You will join a top 10-UK university with excellent laboratory facilities and situated in a vibrant research environment. You will have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at the University of Liverpool and the NHS. Over a period of three years, you will be offered a yearly stipend of over £14k per annum and a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG). PhD tuition fees of UK/EU applicants will be covered for three years.

    Contact Us

    We very much welcome informal queries about this opportunity, which should be directed to Dr Tim Douglas.

    How to apply

    Applications can only be accepted from UK/EU candidates. We welcome applications from people in all diversity groups.

    Applications should be made via Lancaster University's online application system

  • Fully-funded PhD studentships in Nuclear Engineering and Environmental Radioactivity Analysis

    Applications are invited from exceptional graduates in engineering, physics, chemistry and natural sciences to study for a PhD in the areas of Nuclear Engineering (Instrumentation) and/or Environmental Radioactivity Analysis.

    The successful candidates will study in the new Engineering building at Lancaster University, under the supervision of Professor Malcolm Joyce.  The focus of these studentships addresses a range of related challenges associated with radiation detection and measurement including, for example:

    • The assessment of the damaged reactor core material at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,
    • Radioactivity assessment of groundwater concerning the clean-up of UK nuclear facilities,
    • The assessment and monitoring of radioactivity in submerged environments,
    • The combination of radiation sensing systems with robotic and artificial intelligence.

    This studentship is available to UK citizens and EU nationals only.

    Informal enquiries are encouraged via 01524 593812 or m.joyce@lancaster.ac.uk.

    Lancaster University is The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year 2018.  Lancaster is ranked 6th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, and is also named the Best Campus University and Best University in the North West of England.  Engineering at Lancaster is ranked 2nd for graduate prospects (Chemical Engineering) and 3rd in the UK for Mechanical Engineering (Guardian).

  • PhD Studentship in Advanced Manufacturing and Alloy Design

    Details

    • Funding Type: Postgraduate Studentship
    • Type of Study: PhD 

    Description

    Lancaster University is offering a number of fully-funded PhD studentships to meet their growing activity in advanced manufacturing and alloy design.

    The priority research topic areas include;

    • Design and manufacture of lightweight hybrid syntactic metal foam structures
    • Design and manufacture of advanced metallic alloy microstructures
    • Manufacture of magnesium metal matrix composites for automotive applications
    • Thermal treatment and microstructure control in advanced steels, titanium and magnesium alloys
    • Additive manufacturing of novel porous Ti structures and non-porous stainless steels and titanium alloys
    • Diffusion bonding of aerospace alloys
    • Thermodynamic, kinetic and plasticity modelling of new metallic alloys
    • Materials discovery adopting neural networks, Gaussian processes, genetic algorithms and clustering techniques

    We are seeking excellent candidates who are highly motivated and keen to engage with academic partners and industry. Successful candidates will develop a wide range of skills that will include; materials processing, mechanical testing, microstructure and numerical modelling and structural characterisation. Prior experience in manufacturing is not required.

    Qualifications and experience

    • The minimum academic requirement for admission is an upper second-class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng, MPhys, MChem etc, or a lower second with a good Master's, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.
    • A strong background in plasticity and dislocation theory is required.
    • Knowledge of statistical thermodynamics and physical metallurgy is essential.
    • Computer programming skills are essential for the post. 
    • You must have excellent interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team and have experience of the preparation of presentations, reports or journal papers to the highest levels of quality. 

    This post is offered on a 36-month fixed-term appointment.

    Eligibility Criteria

    To be eligible for a studentship, the funding requirements are such that the candidate is either a UK citizen or an EU national. Applicants from outside UK/EU are welcome to apply, however, they will be required to demonstrate their ability to meet the difference between international and home tuition fees. Full sponsorship comprises coverage of UK/EU tuition fees and a standard stipend of around £14.5k per year.

    Applications

    Please send CV and cover letter to Professor Andrew Kennedy, Chair in Advanced Manufacturing (for advanced manufacturing interests) or Professor Pedro Rivera, LPW/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair (for alloy design interests). Both professors are with the Department of Engineering, Lancaster University. 

    We welcome applications from people in all diversity groups. Lancaster University – ensuring equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity.

    Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system.

  • Fully funded PhD Studentship in Multiscale modelling for Materials Design in Additive Manufacturing

    A full PhD studentship on the multiscale modelling for materials design in Additive Manufacturing (AM). The project is led by Dr Wei Wen (Lecturer) and Professor Pedro Rivera at the Department of Engineering, Lancaster University, in collaboration with LPW. This research will focus on physics-based modelling and simulation adopting Crystal Plasticity to establish more comprehensive relationships between AM processes and the mechanical behaviour of metallic AM products. Simulation techniques at multiple length scale will be involved in this research. You will collaborate with colleagues at Lancaster University and LPW partners, and will be actively involved in meetings, workshops and conferences.

    Project synopsis: 

    Metallic powder bed additive manufacturing (AM) technique has become an active research topic in recent years; it has attracted increasing attention from several manufacturing industries such as aerospace, automotive and medical devices. There is a worldwide need for material design methods for AM to improve the quality of fabricated components. However, AM industry it is facing a key challenge since many factors may be involved in its processes – each of them may strongly affect product microstructure and properties. In such scenario, addressing the Processing-Structure-Property-Performance (PSPP) relationships is deemed to be the pathway to optimise the chemical composition and fabrication processes to achieve the desired product.

    The Engineering department at Lancaster University has launched a research project in collaboration with LPW, aiming to enhance our current understanding of the PSPP relationships during AM and develop a predictive alloy design and process optimisation strategy. This PhD research will focus on the modelling side of the project. The candidate will be required to numerically analyse the effects of chemical composition, powder production and selective laser melting (SLM) processes on the microstructure of the material. Physics-based polycrystal models will also be established to bridge the microstructure with macroscopic behaviour. Advanced simulation techniques at lower scale would be performed to identify and quantify the relevant mechanisms. Thereafter, the student will be expected to create a comprehensive database of the PSPP relationships of the target materials and provide valuable feedback to the material design and AM process optimisation. All the modelling studies will be based on the outcomes of material testing and characterization provided by other members of the project at Lancaster University and LPW.

    Qualifications and experience:

    • The minimum academic requirement for admission is an upper second class UK honours degree at the level of MSci, MEng, MPhys, MChem etc, or a lower second with a good Master's, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.

    • Background in thermokinetics and physical metallurgy is required.

    • Knowledge in crystal plasticity and dislocation theory is preferred.

    • A good basis in computer programming is essential for the post. 

    • Excellent oral and written communication skills with ability to prepare presentations, reports and journal papers to the highest levels of quality.

    • Excellent interpersonal skill to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary project area of research.

     

    Closing date 

    Applications can be submitted until the position is filled.

    Contact Us

    We very much welcome informal queries about this opportunity, which should be directed to Dr Wei Wen (), Lecturer at the Department of Engineering, Lancaster University.

    How to apply

    Applications should be made with a covering letter and CV via Lancaster University’s online application system (https://www.postgraduate-applications.lancaster.ac.uk/)
    Lancaster University – ensuring equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity.

    Funding Notes

    Full funding is available to UK/EU nationals only for 3.5 years; the rest of the candidates will have to find extra funding to cover the difference between UK/EU and overseas university fees. The student will receive a standard stipend of around £14.5k per year.

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Digital design, additive manufacture, simulation and testing of multifunctional porous structures

    Supervisors : Prof Andrew Kennedy, Dr David Cheneler

    Start date: October 2019

    This innovative and challenging Ph.D. project will develop and evaluate a simulation-based platform for the design and testing of multifunctional macro porous materials.

     

    Project detail

    For macro porous materials to become ubiquitous, their unique multifunctional properties (such as fluid flow control, sound absorption and heat transfer – combined with mechanical strength and energy absorption capability) need to be exploited. Tensions exist between the need for open structures for functional performance and “mass” for optimum load bearing capacity.  Balancing this and optimising the structure (for example porosity, pore size and pore connectivity) is extremely challenging.

    This project will develop the tools to create a virtual environment in which to design and test porous structures.  The basis is the building of porous structures from adaptable mathematical representations of packed spheres (that can be compressed, dilated and eroded).  These virtual structures will then be converted into models for 3D printing (using unique high resolution printers at Lancaster) and their design and the printing process optimised to ensure a good correlation between virtual structure and prototype.  Conventional FEA-based simulations of heat flow, fluid flow and mechanical deformation will be applied to virtual structures and physical testing of “3D” printed facsimiles will authenticate the accuracy of this modelling.

    Funding and eligibility

    The project is fully funded for 3.5 years and UK and EU citizens are eligible to apply.  The successful applicant will be paid a tax-free stipend of £15, 009 per year and will join an internationally recognised research group to deliver a novel solution to the design of porous materials.  The project will deliver original, fundamental research with wide scientific interest and impact.  The student will attain wide-ranging skills and expertise in programming, mathematical modelling, 3D design and manufacturing and mechanical and physical property testing.  The project would suit graduates with 1st or upper second class degrees in engineering, materials science, mathematics or physics.

    For further information please contact Prof Andrew Kennedy (a.kennedy3@lancaster.ac.uk) https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/engineering/about/people/andrew-kennedy

    How to apply

    Applications should be made via the Postgraduate Admissions Portal. Once you have created an account you will be able to fill in your personal details, background and upload supporting documentation. The application should make clear that you are applying for this funded project and upload the project described above as the research proposal. Please do also mention the supervisors listed above.

    Lancaster University – ensuring equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity.

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship (Sponsored by Lloyds Register Foundation) in Real time evaluation of weld quality during Friction Stir Welding (Industry 4.0)

    Background
    Friction Stir Welding (FSW) is a solid state joining technique which is being used in a variety of industries worldwide. Applications include the manufacture of trains, space vehicles, aeroplanes and cars. While the application of FSW Technology continues to grow, real time quality monitoring is needed for the automation of FSW. To date, very few significant contributions have been reported regarding in-process monitoring and adaptive control. Having an in-process real time quality monitoring system would significantly increase process acceptability, data exchange and integration with other systems, as well as reduce the need for post-weld destructive and non-destructive testing.

    Approach
    FSW is a joining technique that relies on localised forging and extrusion of the material to be joined around a rotating tool. There are many variables which affect making a successful joint: process parameters, tool geometry and wear, machine stability, condition of supply of the component, work holding etc.

    This project will investigate how these variables affect weld quality, sensors will be selected and installed on the FSW machine(s) and used to assess the FSW environment and through collection and analysis of data establish if the process is in control and (non-destructively) if a good weld is expected.

    Initially this would be through analysis of high frequency force and torque signals, however other signals such as sound, vibration, temperature etc. could be introduced.

    Deliverables
    The deliverables would be two fold

    For industry

    • An open loop non-destructive evaluation system which could be used to (a) monitor and qualify that the welds produced are to a standard or (b) detect unexpected occurrences such as tool breakage.

    • A closed loop feedback system which could detect the onset of process breakdown and adapt the process parameters to re-establish good welding.

    For Research  

    • An analytical system which would guide engineers in developing and optimising FSW tool design and process parameters for specific welding applications reducing development lead times.

     

    About Industrial Sponsor
    The Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds the advancement of engineer-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air, because life matters. Lloyd’s Register Foundation is partly funded by the profits of their trading arm Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation.

    About NSIRC
    NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with, top UK and International Universities and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.

    About the University
    Lancaster University is a strong and dynamic university with a very highly regarded Engineering Department.  In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 91% of research quality and 100% of impact was assessed as being internationally excellent and world leading. Lancaster’s approach to interdisciplinary collaboration means that it has pre-eminent capacity and capability for the integration of Engineering with expertise in the areas of data science, autonomous and learning systems, intelligent automation, materials science and cyber security. The University is developing an ambitious growth plan for Engineering, including investment in staff, doctoral students, equipment and a new building focussed on research themes including Digital and Advanced Manufacturing.  Lancaster is the current Times and Sunday Times University of the Year.

    Candidate Requirements
    Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in:

    • Engineering (Mechanical, Controls, Manufacturing)
    • Materials science
    • Physics

    Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling and experimental skills are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5), if applicable.

    This collaborative project will involve the majority of time spent at TWI in Cambridge, but there is an expectation that the Student will spend a proportion of their time at Lancaster University.

    Funding Notes
    This project is funded by Lloyds Register Foundation and TWI. The studentship will provide a successful Home/EU student with a stipend of £16k/year and will cover the cost of tuition fees. Non-EU students are also welcome to apply, and the studentship will provide a successful non-EU applicant with a maximum of £24k/year towards living costs and tuition fees at oversea rate.

    How to apply
    For further information, please contact Dr Yingtao Tian (y.tian12@lancaster.ac.uk). Formal applications should be made via the Postgraduate Admissions Portal. Once you have created an account you will be able to fill in your personal details, background and upload supporting documentation.

    Lancaster University – ensuring equality of opportunity and celebrating diversity.

  • Fully funded PhD studentship for research into the control of robotic manipulators for nuclear decommissioning applications

    Project Description

    A fully funded PhD studentship for research into the control of robotic manipulators is available for an outstanding graduate in engineering. This is a Lancaster University funded studentship. For this position, a significant component of the research will be practically-orientated, involving laboratory robotic systems in the Engineering Department. Hence, an enthusiasm for both engineering analysis and practical experimental work, together with programming skills will be essential. The main objective is to develop control systems for applications such as autonomous pipe-cutting and material discrimination.

    Engineering research at Lancaster University has been rated as world leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and you will join a dedicated team of engineers working on a range of exciting topics in nuclear engineering, control and robotics.

    Mobile robots reduce the need for manned entry into radioactive environments e.g. areas of high beta/gamma mixed wastes, a widespread problem in the context of waste vaults at nuclear power plants. They provide an invaluable option for the safe retrieval and disposal of contaminated materials, whilst safeguarding the environment and minimising radiation exposure to operators. Increasing the autonomy of nuclear robots is one of the key factors to improve the decommissioning process, in which robots are required to interact with objects and the environment forcefully, by pushing, cutting, shearing and grinding, in addition to standard pick-and-place tasks.

    Hence, the project will help to deliver optimised, widely applicable intelligent control architectures for industry-specified decommissioning tasks. Our BROKK-based system, with dual seven degree-of-freedom manipulators and a flexible tool configuration, has already been used at the NNL’s Workington laboratory for successful material discrimination trials in relation to a Sellafield Ltd project. Additional newer robotic manipulators and other robotic systems will also be utilised for the research.

    Within this robotics context, there is some flexibility over the research direction, depending on the applicant’s expertise and interests. A detailed research plan will be drawn up by the successful applicant and supervisors. This can potentially focus on e.g. control systems, kinematics, human-machine software interface, force feedback, and so on.

    Funding Notes

    The full standard studentship consists of Home/EU tuition fees, together with a maintenance grant and research training support. The funding is for 3.5 years and will pay a stipend at the standard UKRC rate. To declare your interest and for further information, please send a copy of your CV and cover letter to Professor James Taylor. The formal application for PhD study can subsequently be made via the Lancaster University Postgraduate Admissions Portal.

  • PhD Studentship in Modelling and Design of Redox Flow Energy Storage Systems

    Details

    • Funding Type: Postgraduate Studentship
    • Type of Study: PhD 
    • Deadline for Applications: 30th June 2018

     

    Description

    Redox flow energy storage systems offer unique advantages over batteries and other devices because the charging and discharge processes are separated from the storage and even from each other. This flexibility in the design affords great opportunities for optimisation against a range of objectives such as, but not limited to, rapid opportunistic charging exploiting excess wind power to slow base load charging exploiting low demand nighttime periods. The configuration of the process equipment in conjunction with the electrochemistry leads to complex non-linear dynamics. In addition, start-up, shut-down and current reversal can impose chemical and physical stresses on components leading to excessive corrosion and failure.

    Working with the redox flow research team in Energy Lancaster the successful candidate will investigate and develop models to describe the electrochemical and flow processes at a range of scales from the molecular to the complete process system. The work will be informed by current empirical research in electrolyte systems being carried out by the group. It is envisaged that the outputs of this work will inform many aspects of redox flow energy storage systems from a selection of electrolytes and the design and novel fabrication of electrolysers through process systems to the integration of systems with complementary storage technologies and grids.

    Eligibility Criteria

    To be eligible for a studentship, the funding requirements are such that the candidate is either a UK citizen or an EU national. Applicants from outside UK/EU are welcome to apply, however, they will be required to demonstrate their ability to meet the difference between international and home tuition fees.

    Entry Requirements

    A first class or good 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in chemical engineering or a cognate discipline. Experience with computational modelling in one or more of the following fields is essential: Fluid flow, Process systems, chemical reactions, heat and mass transfer.

    Applications

    Formal applications should be made via the Lancaster University Postgraduate Admissions Portal. Once you have created an account you will be able to fill in your personal details, background and upload supporting documentation. The application should make clear that you are applying for this funded project and upload the project described above as the research proposal.

    For further information, please contact Professor Alastair Martin (a.martin1@lancaster.ac.uk).

  • Fully funded PhD Studentship in Improving Surface Finish of Metallic Powder Bed Additive Manufactured Components by Multi-Step Electrochemical Polishing

    Supervisors: Dr Yingtao Tian and Dr Allan Rennie

    Project Description
    Metallic powder bed additive manufacturing (AM) technique has been widely employed to produce near net-shape components in recent years. However, one of the major obstacles preventing the metal powder bed AM technique from being directly implemented into the production line is the poor surface finish. As an intrinsic feature of powder based AM process, the surfaces always have partially melted powders which are usually in the range of dozens of microns. As a result, the AM part has a typical surface roughness of Ra > 10 μm. In contrary, very often the engineering applications require a surface roughness of Ra < 0.5 μm. Currently, the AM parts need to be CNC machined or mechanically/manually polished to a satisfactory surface finish level. However, both CNC machining and mechanical polishing are slow and expensive processes and encounter difficulties in complex shaped parts while sometimes it is even impossible to access the undercut or internal surfaces.

    This project will investigate a novel surface polishing technique based on electrochemically dissolving the micro-peaks on the rough surface. The solution based polishing method has the potential to obtain a very smooth and high gloss surface finish, enabling high productivity over a large surface area with a large quantity of components, and offering full access to all surfaces, including undercut and inner surfaces, by immersing the geometry into liquid solution. More importantly, unlike traditional electrochemical polishing processes, which often use highly corrosive or toxic chemicals, this new process uses non-toxic low concentrated mineral acids with designated additives. This ‘green’ process will be of great interest to industry.

    The PhD project is jointly supervised by Dr Yingtao Tian and Dr Allan Rennie from the Department of Engineering, Lancaster University.

    Candidate Requirements
    Applicants should ideally have a First Class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) or Upper Second Class Honours MEng in Materials Science, Chemical Engineering, Surface Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or a related discipline. You should have a keen interest in additive manufacturing and surface engineering, including materials, process development and surface characterisation. Excellent organisational, interpersonal and communication skills, along with a stated interest in interdisciplinary research, are essential.

    Ideally you would have experience in a number of the below, learning the others as part of the PhD:

    • Additive manufacturing

    • Metallurgy

    • Electrochemical processing

    • Surface Engineering and metrology

    • Materials characterisation

    • Experimental design

    • Numerical modelling

    Candidates with electrochemical fabrication experiences are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5 overall and 6.0 for each element), if applicable.

    Closing Date and Start Date:

    We will be continuously having informal discussions with interested candidates until this position is filled.

    Value of award:

    The studentship will provide a successful UK/EU student with tuition fee plus a stipend of £15k/yr for 3.5 years. Non-EU students are also welcome to apply, and the studentship will only cover the tuition fee for a successful non-EU applicant. Non-EU candidates need to demonstrate sufficient financial evidence towards living cost (currently £1,015 per month according to Home Office’s Tier 4 Policy Guide) before making the formal application.

    How to apply

    For further information, please contact Dr Yingtao Tian (y.tian12@lancaster.ac.uk).

    Applications should be made via the Postgraduate Admissions Portal. Once you have created an account you will be able to fill in your personal details, background and upload supporting documentation.

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship on The Safe Disposal of Advanced Nuclear Fuel

    PHD – Fully funded by the Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM Ltd) at iCASE level for 4 years

    The UK government has proposed a preliminary policy to re-use the UK’s stockpile of plutonium as Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel formed of a blend of plutonium oxide and uranium oxide. This would see the vast majority of UK’s 138 tonnes of plutonium converted into fuel for use in new UK nuclear reactors.

    Once used, this MOX would be sent to disposal within a geologic disposal facility. This spent MOX fuel is assumed to be a stable wasteform with reactivity largely comparable to more established and well-studied uranium oxide (UOX) spent fuels. As such spent MOX is expected to display high chemical stability when contacted by groundwater in a geologic disposal facility, with fuel dissolution and thus radionuclide release rates to the environment being very low.

    However, these assumptions need validating. Preliminary leach testing work on MOX suggests that it is comparable to UOX fuel. However the work has also identified differences between the fuels that warrant further investigation to determine whether the long term behaviour can be expected to remain similar to or even better than that of UOX fuel

    Thus, the aim of this fully funded PhD project will be to develop and characterise a realistic simulant for used MOX fuel and to investigate its dissolution behaviour under conditions analogous to those found in a geologic disposal facility.

    Key activities will include: production and characterisation of simulated MOX fuels by blending UO2 and CeO2 (as a PuO2 surrogate) to form simulated fuel pellets; electrochemical corrosion and leaching behaviour studies of these MOX simulants, aiming to obtain fuel dissolution rates as a function of key variables such as pH, salinity, O2 availability and temperature; and, facilitated by collaboration with NNL, to assess how closely the simulants represent real fuel.

    The project is intellectually challenging and involves well-integrated elements of chemistry, engineering and materials science. The successful applicant will become familiar with techniques needed to tackle major problems in the nuclear industry and be part of a well-established team of nuclear researchers within Lancaster’s Engineering Department that seeks to address industrial problems while maintaining a strong science and technology base.

    The appointee will interact with both Radioactive Waste Management Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), the UK’s largest nuclear research facility for the conduct of radioactive experiments. There will be opportunities for periods of placement at the NNL’s Central Laboratory in Cumbria.

    How to apply

    To apply, send a copy of your CV to Professor Colin Boxall, Engineering Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, or by email to c.boxall@lancaster.ac.uk. Informal enquiries to this address are also very welcome.

     

  • Fully Funded PhD Studentship: Advanced Control Systems for Intelligent Coordination of Manipulation and Grasping in Nuclear Robotics
    • Deadline 31st December 2018

    Supervisor

    Dr Allahyar Montazeri

    Description

    A fully funded PhD studentship is available for an outstanding graduate with specific interest on robotics, control as well as image processing techniques. The project is in close collaboration with the industry partner to develop a novel advanced control system for intelligent coordination of hand and eye in a hydraulic nuclear manipulator. The main objective is to develop a system that addresses the inherent uncertainty in the nuclear industry case study environments for applications such as welding, pipe cutting and material discrimination. Engineering research at Lancaster University has been rated as world-leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and you will join a dedicated team of scientists working on a range of exciting topics in robotics.

    Increasing the autonomy of nuclear robots is one of the key factors to improve the decommissioning performance and reduce the dependency of the remotely controlled system by the human operator. This is due to the complex manipulation capabilities that require the robot to interact with objects and environment forcefully by pushing, cutting, shearing, grinding in addition to easier pick-and-place tasks.

    In this project, we address the above-mentioned challenges by design and development an advanced control system which combines the information from the smart end-effector tool with the control system designed for the manipulator for a coordinated and intelligent grasping and manipulation.

    The system that will be developed in this research consists of two major subsystems. The end-effector subsystem which includes the hardware and algorithms designed to recognise the material of the object aimed for grasping and the manipulation subsystem which consists of a vision system combined with a novel multivariable control system resulting in a high precision visual-serving system.

    Although the size and shape of the object are identified by the camera in the manipulator subsystem, the material is recognized through the end-effector subsystem. The approach here is to propose a multi-modal sensing system by using various sensors in the end-effector tool. It is envisaged to achieve a fast and accurate classification rate for a range of materials by fusing these measurements using iterative machine learning algorithms. Combining this information with the vision system in the manipulation subsystem generates the desired force for interaction with the object. Furthermore, the vision system is used to identify the position of the end-effector and move the arm towards the object. This is carried out by further investigating the advanced control system developed for this purpose to improve its performance and combine it with the visual information provided by the camera in real-time.

    Application Details

    Potential candidates for this position are expected to have the following qualifications:

    • Should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper second-class degree in Engineering at the level of MSc, MEng, etc or a lower second with a good Master's, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.

    • The funding is available for UK/EU students; however, international students could also apply under circumstances.

    • Sufficient background on control theory, image processing or a closely related discipline.

    • Practical experiences on implementation of the control algorithms.

    • Computer programming skills such as MATLAB are essential for the post.

    • You should have excellent interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team and have experience of the preparation of presentations, reports or journal papers to the highest levels of quality.

    • The suitable candidate should also have been resident in the UK for at least 4 years immediately prior to taking up the position.

    Eligibility Criteria

    A full standard studentship consists of tuition fees, together with a maintenance grant and research training support. The funding is for 3.5 years and will pay a stipend that is £2K above the standard UKRC rate.

    To declare your interest and get further information about the application procedure, please send a copy of your CV along with the cover letter to Dr Allahyar Montazeri.

    The formal application should be made via the Lancaster University online portal once it is reviewed and considered for the position.

  • Fully funded PhD Studentship in Terahertz imaging for spectroscopic applications

    The Department of Engineering at Lancaster University is pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded PhD studentship in Electronic Engineering, to commence in October 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.

    The Terahertz (THz) range (1-10 THz corresponds to vacuum wavelengths between 30-300 m) represents an exciting portion of the electromagnetic spectrum with unique applications in communications, spectroscopy and imaging. THz imaging has an enormous potential in both fundamental research and industrial applications [1], such as pharmaceutical quality control [2], materials characterisation [3] and biomedical imaging [4]. However, one of the bottlenecks has been the need for raster scanning as part of THz imaging acquisition.  Exploiting the compactness of metamaterials and the electrically tenability of graphene [7, 8], this project will combine computational imaging together with graphene integrated metamaterials to enable real-time THz imaging. This project will involve the design, simulation, fabrication and testing of spatial light modulators and detectors based on metamaterials and graphene, operating in the terahertz frequency range and their application in solid-state spectroscopy and imaging. Graphene samples and expertise will be provided by the established collaboration with University of Cambridge. The PhD candidate will develop expertise in device fabrication using standard clean room techniques, as well as proficiency in device characterisation using facilities available in the Engineering Department.

    [1] “Terahertz Spectroscopy and Imaging”, edited by K.-E. Peiponen, J. A. Zeitler, M. Kuwata-Gonokami, Springer-Verlag

    Berlin Heidelberg (2013).

    [2] Y.-C. Shen et al. “Development and application of terahertz pulsed imaging for non-destructive inspection of pharmaceutical tablet,” IEEE J. Sel. Topics in Quantum Electron. 14(2), 407–415, (2008).

    [3] H Lin, et al. “Contactless graphene conductivity mapping on a wide range of substrates with terahertz time-domain reflection spectroscopy,”Sci. Rep. 7 (1), 10625, (2017).

    [4] E. Pickwell et al. “Biomedical Applications of Terahertz Technology,” J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 39 (17), 301−310, (2006).

    [5] C. M Watts et al. “Terahertz compressive imaging with metamaterial spatial light modulators,” Nat. Photon. 8, 605-609 (2014).

    [6] W. L. Chan et al. “A single-pixel terahertz imaging system based on compressed sensing,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 93, 121105, (2008).

    [7]R. Degl’Innocenti et al. “All-integrated terahertz modulators” invited review article, Nanophotonics, 7(1) 127-144, (2018)

    [8] R. Degl'Innocenti et al. “Fast room temperature detection of terahertz quantum cascade lasers with graphene loaded bow-tie plasmonic antenna arrays” ACS Photon. 3, 1747, (2016).

    To be eligible for the studentship, the funding requirements are that you must either be a U.K. citizen or a European Union national.  The stipend for eligible students is £15,009 for 2019/2020 and subject to national adjustments. 

    For more information contact: Dr.  Riccardo Degl’Innocenti (r.deglinnocenti@lancaster.ac.uk) or Dr. Hungyen Lin (h.lin2@lancaster.ac.uk).
    http://www.engineering.lancs.ac.uk/

    The formal application should be made via the Lancaster University online portal once it is reviewed and considered for the position.

  • Full-funded PhD Studentship in Sub nano-Ohm resolution surface resistance measurements in a cryo-free environment

    Supervisors: P. Goudket (AsTec/STFC) & T. Junginger (Lancaster University/Cockcroft Institute)

    State of the art superconducting cavities made of niobium is reaching fundamental limitations in terms of maximum accelerating gradient and power dissipation. New materials such as Nb3Sn can potentially allow for multi-million-pound savings for large-scale projects due to lower power dissipation and enable new applications of SRF technology in research and industry such as security and wastewater treatment.


    AsTeC/STFC is developing an infrastructure to produce and test samples of such materials. It has the potential to be world leading if a high sample throughput can be achieved. Previous experience at several laboratories worldwide has shown that RF testing of superconducting samples is a task with challenging and often opposing requirements [1]. Sample test cavities are available at several laboratories worldwide; none has become the workhorse for systematic sample studies yet [1]. In order to assess the applicability to particle accelerators, sub-nano-Ohm resolution measurements are key. Up till now, this has only been proven to be successful using an instrument named the Quadrupole Resonator [2]. However, this device requires a complicated sample shape and operation in a liquid helium bath cryostat. Turn-around times for sample tests are therefore limited below the requirements for systematic studies. In order to overcome this limitation, AsTeC in collaboration with Lancaster University has designed a Choked Resonator to be operated in a cryo-free environment [3].


    The student´s first task is to commission the test cavity and develop a measurement system (calorimeter) which will allow for sub-nano-Ohm resolution surface resistance measurements. This includes a detailed study of the limits of surface resistance resolution and identifying and implementing methods for improvement. This will require to become familiar with cryogenic, radiofrequency and superconductivity techniques alike. The aim is to establish a test program which allows quick turnaround of samples to provide effective feedback to colleagues working on thin film deposition. The student will learn the basics of this field to allow for effective communication and decision making in a team effort. AsTeC/STFC is investigating several new materials and deposition techniques for superconducting cavities. Currently, the most promising one is High-power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS) of Nb3Sn on copper substrates, which will be the focus of the investigations.


    [1] Goudket, Philippe, T. Junginger, and B. P. Xiao. "Devices for SRF material characterization." Superconductor Science and Technology 30.1 (2016): 013001.
    [2] Junginger, Tobias, Wolfgang Weingarten, and Carsten Welsch. "Extension of the measurement capabilities of the quadrupole resonator." Review of Scientific Instruments 83.6 (2012): 063902.
    [3] P. Goudket, L. Bizel-Bizellot, L. Gurran, O.B. Malyshev, S.M. Pattalwar, R. Valizadeh, G. Burt, L. Gurran, T. Junginger, L. Gurran. "Superconducting Thin Film RF Measurements" Proceedings of IPAC18 Pre-press

    The project is fully funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council for 3.5 years. A full package of training and support will be provided and the student will take part in a vibrant accelerator research and education community of over 150 people. The project is fully funded by the STFC for years; the UK and other EU citizens are eligible to apply. The student will receive a standard stipend of around £14.5k/yr.

    More Information: Dr Tobias Junginger (tobias.junginger@lancaster.ac.uk), http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/engineering/.

    The formal application should be made via the Lancaster University online portal (https://www.postgraduate-applications.lancaster.ac.uk).

  • Fully Funded PhD Studentship in The Electrochemical Treatment of Nuclear Wastes

    Exploring new, effective, efficient and low cost electrochemical based methods, to treat problem waste streams contaminated with plutonium and actinides, from concept through to laboratory scale process demonstration.

    The Department of Engineering at Lancaster University is pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded PhD studentship in Nuclear Engineering.

    Legacy wastes, especially those whose condition is such that straightforward disposal is not a viable option, present an important challenge for the nuclear industry. These are hazardous and must be thoroughly decontaminated prior to further processing for disposal. Current decontamination techniques involve the use of significant amounts of costly reagents which can have limited efficiencies toward separation and require further treatment as part of a secondary waste stream.

    Electrochemical treatment of legacy wastes can yield a means to efficiently provide separation without the need for additional reagents.  This significantly reduces the mass, volume and cost associated with decontamination process and could allow a safe and timely method for their treatment. This project will explore the fundamental electrochemistry of the proposed decontamination schemes, design and simulate the core electrochemical reactors involved and demonstrate their performance on a small scale.  This will initially be with chemical analogues but there is an ambitious but achievable goal to use some active materials for direct demonstration of the process and reactor designs by the end of the project.  This will be under very carefully controlled conditions at an industrial partner’s site.

    To be eligible for the studentship, the funding requirements are that you must either be a U.K. citizen or a European Union national.  The stipend for eligible students would be £14,296 for 2016/17 and subject to national adjustments.

    Entry requirements:  First class or good 2:1 in Chemical / Mechanical / Nuclear Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science or related discipline.

    For more information contact: Dr. Richard Dawson (r.dawson@lancaster.ac.uk) or Dr. Fabrice Andrieux (f.andrieux@lancaster.ac.uk)

    http://www.engineering.lancs.ac.uk/

    The formal application should be made via the Lancaster University online portal once it is reviewed and considered for the position.

  • Full-funded PhD Studentship in High throughput technologies for the efficient downstream processing of recombinant proteins for production of low-cost rapid diagnostic kits - HiTEC_ENDROPIK

    Supervisor: Dr Emmnaouil H Papaioannou

    Period of studentship: 4 years

    Start Date: October 2019

    Funding: The scholarship provides a stipend for its entire duration and covers the University tuition fees at UK level, therefore is only valid for UK based applicants

    Background: In spite of substantial progress in the development of sophisticated methodologies for disease detection, they are often difficult to apply at the point of need, and some can also be time-consuming and/or expensive. There is therefore an increasing demand for the development of cheap and reliable antibody-based diagnostic tests (e.g. lateral flow kits) that can be used for simple, early-stage detection of a range of important diseases. Central to the ability to fabricate such kits is a system for efficient, low cost antibody and antigen production to defined specifications at an industrial scale.

    Project: This project main objectives are to develop new low-cost processes for recovery of recombinant proteins from bacteria vectors by using new approaches to cell lysis and membrane-based purifications.

    The project will be carried out in the research labs of three main partners: Mologic (for 14 months in total, two months at the beginning and the rest 12 months after the 36th month), Engineering Department (ED) and Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) at Lancaster University (the rest 34 months), under the supervision of scientists from different backgrounds (molecular biologist, protein biochemist, bio-process engineer and biotechnologist). This interdisciplinary PhD will provide unique skills to the candidate, who will be trained in molecular biology/protein biochemistry (protein expression in E. coli), membrane separations and bio-process design (cell lysis, protein membrane separation and cost analysis).

    The programme is of key industrial relevance, as it will provide evidence that could be used as a first step to evaluate new alternative systems for commercial purification of recombinant proteins at reduced cost.

    Entry requirements: Candidates for this position should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper second class degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry or a closely related discipline. Experience in membrane separation processes, protein expression in microorganisms, protein purification and recovery, and analytical methods (electrophoresis, HPLC, UV-Vis spectroscopy etc) would be an advantage. Due to funding regulations applications are restricted to UK nationals or EU citizens that have lived in the UK for the last three years. Excellent communication and English writing skills will be required.

    Early applications are strongly encouraged. The position is open until the 21st June 2019.

    For further enquiries please contact: Dr. Dr Emmnaouil H Papaioannou (e.papaioannou@lancaster.ac.uk).

    Formal applications should be made via the Lancaster University Postgraduate Admissions online portal. Once you have created an account you will be able to fill in your personal details, background and upload supporting documentation. Once you have created an account you will be able to fill in your personal details, background and upload required supporting documentation. However, it is recommended to notify Dr Papaioannou beforehand of your interest in this position to help ensure timely consideration of your application.

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship on The Radiolysis of Water over Plutonium Oxide: The Mystery of the Disappearing Oxygen

    PHD – Funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) at iCASE level for 4 years

    Approximately 138 tonnes of separated Pu is in long term storage at Sellafield as PuO2 powder in nested, sealed steel storage cans. Under certain circumstances, gas generation may occur with consequent storage package pressurisation. In practice, this is rarely seen and empirically derived criteria are used to account for this gas release and so ensure safe storage conditions. The purpose of this proposed PhD project is to contribute to a fundamental understanding of the factors influencing the empirical criteria.

    There are a number of fundamental mechanisms that could lead to pressurisation, and all must be understood. The 5 main routes suggested are:

    (i)     Helium accumulation from α decay;

    (ii)    Decomposition of polymeric packing material;

    (iii)   Steam produced by H2O desorption from hygroscopic PuO2 due to self-heating or loss of cooling in stores;

    (iv)   Radiolysis of adsorbed water to generate gaseous hydrogen and oxygen; and,

    (v)    Generation of H2 by a postulated (hydrothermal) chemical reaction of PuO2 with H2O.

    The scope for this PhD is focussed on mechanisms (iv) and (v).

    Small scale studies of PuO2 packages suggest that gaseous hydrogen and oxygen may be formed in such packages. However, these studies also found that the pressure is limited by a H2/O2 recombination process. This may be through a recombination process of hydrogen and oxygen and could be thermally or radiolytically driven processes. Experience has also shown that cans sealed under non-ideal conditions can have headspace atmospheres that,  as expected, contain hydrogen but, mysteriously, contain little to no oxygen.

    Preliminary studies indicate that irradiation of gas phase mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen with helium ions or gamma rays can lead to loss of hydrogen, presumably through radiation-induced reaction with oxygen to form water. This loss of hydrogen is found to be accelerated by the presence of zirconium and cerium oxides. The potential role of metal oxide surfaces in promoting this reaction is not clear.

    If the hydrogen is produced primarily by the radiolysis of water the comparative absence of oxygen in the can headspace raises questions as to whether this is due to the formation of a suggested PuO2+x phase or some other oxidative process or H2/O2 recombination. Recombination, with or without PuO2 acting as a catalyst, could prevent the coincident observation of the two gases and limit the extent of package pressurisation, but not fully explain why a number of packages have been shown to contain hydrogen with oxygen being mysteriously absent.

    Thus, questions arise as to whether this putative recombination catalysis exists on PuO2 and the fate of the oxygen. Sellafield Ltd have started a programme of work at NNL to investigate this. The proposed PhD, which will involve a significant period of placement at NNL’s Central Laboratory, will be working to address these questions.

    Preliminary work at Lancaster will focus on the development of methods for on-line sampling of both hydrogen and oxygen and potentially other species as a function of T, P, water content, dose rate, specific surface area, co-adsorbed species etc. during recombination / catalytic reaction studies. The student will then work alongside NNL to further the understanding of the efficacy of PuO2 as a catalyst, and understand dependencies of the composition of the gas-phase on the surface activity of the metal oxide.

    The project is intellectually challenging and involves well-integrated elements of chemistry, engineering and materials science. The successful applicant will become familiar with techniques needed to tackle major problems in the nuclear industry and be part of a well-established team of nuclear researchers within Lancaster’s Engineering Department that seeks to address industrial problems while maintaining a strong science and technology base.

    The appointee will interact with both Sellafield Ltd and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), the UK’s largest nuclear research facility for the conduct of radioactive experiments. There will be a substantial period of placement at the NNL’s Central Laboratory in Cumbria.

    How to apply

    To apply, send a copy of your CV to Professor Colin Boxall, Engineering Department, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YR, or by email to c.boxall@lancaster.ac.uk. Informal enquiries to this address are also very welcome.

  • Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Linear Particle Accelerators for X-ray Cargo Screening and Radiotherapy

    The need to control borders has led to a rapid growth in the use of X-ray cargo imaging at ports, airports and rail depots. Many projects inspired by high energy physics (HEP) have led to rapid developments in detector technology. This, however, has not been accompanied by accelerator development, which has resulted in many of these detectors developments not being utilised. Furthermore, security applications require linacs with higher repetition rates, shorter bunches and longer macropulses, which currently don’t exist commercially. The linacs used in security are also used for radiotherapy. Currently 50% of the worlds population do not have sufficient access tio radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer, mostly in low or middle income countries. Lancaster are currently developing new radiotherapy machines that will either be cheaper or easier to repair than existing machines to help improve access.

    With new RF design methodologies and techniques employed in high gradient accelerators and existing RF sources, such a linac could be realised in parallel with electron gun development.

    A PhD student is required to design a next-generation linac suitable for the needs of Rapiscan to meet the requirements of their current imaging needs, as well as for radiotherapy in low income countries.

    The Cockcroft has an existing linac test facility suitable for novel linac and detector development. The student will also help commission and operate this facility, as well as performing characterization of the beam to aid future experiments.

    The Cockcroft Institute - a collaboration between academia, national laboratories, and industry led by Lancaster University - brings together the best scientists and engineers to conceive, construct and exploit particle accelerators of all sizes, and to lead the UK’s participation in flagship international facilities.

    We are offering a fully funded 3.5-year PhD studentships (for UK nationals) with a strong industry focus in collaboration with Rapiscan systems as part of the Accelerator for security, healthcare and environment doctoral training centre in collaboration leading industrial partners, a including 3-6 months’ work placement. Students will receive additional training in skills relevant for industry to aid employability on completion. Our 50+ PhD students work in a vibrant community spanning fundamental science to practical application.

    For more information contact: Dr. Graeme Burt (g.burt@lancaster.ac.uk).
    http://www.engineering.lancs.ac.uk/

    The formal application should be made via the Lancaster University online portal where it will be reviewed and considered for the position.

Other Opportunities

Next Generation Nuclear

The Next Generation Nuclear Centre for Doctoral Training (NGN CDT) provides fully-funded four-year PhD studentships, available across the partner universities and many of these will involve close collaboration with industry, including secondment into industrial nuclear research centres.

Next Generation Nuclear is a partnership between the Universities of Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. Its mission is to develop the next generation of research leaders to support the UK's present and future strategic nuclear programmes - cleaning up the nuclear legacy, building new nuclear power stations, and defence and security.

Coming soon

NGN will work with all the UK's major industrial and regulatory stakeholders, including Amec, Areva, EDF, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the National Nuclear Laboratory, Rolls-Royce, and Sellafield Ltd, and with leading overseas institutions.

A list of the specific Next Generation Nuclear PhD projects will be available around November/December each year. We have one intake a year in September.

We run various open days across the partner institutions throughout the year so please keep an eye on the website for the latest information.

For more information please contact - ngn@manchester.ac.uk

Centre for Global Eco-Innovation 

Innovation to increase the head for hydropower applications 

Get paid to do a Masters with the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University and Ocean Current Power Ltd.

Year Enterprise-led funded Masters by Research:

  • Get paid £15,000 tax-free
  • Reduce your tuition fees. Your partner company pays £2,000 towards your fees, meaning UK/EU students pay £2,260, and International students pay £15,945.
  • Be part of the multi-award winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation with a cohort of 50 talented graduates working on exciting business-led R&D.
  • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market in the UK and overseas.

The Project

This one year Masters by Research project offers the opportunity to be involved in the design and optimisation of a new technology seeking to increase the head for hydropower applications. The successful candidate will use a specific case study to develop a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling capability, which can optimise the design and performance of this technology. You will work with Ocean Current Power Ltd to refine the product design before the company commercialises the product.

Applicants should have an engineering degree and an interest in renewable energy and/or product design would be beneficial. The successful candidate will work with Professor George Aggidis, leader of the energy group in the Department of Engineering at Lancaster University.

Enterprise and collaborative partners

This Masters by Research is a collaborative research project between Lancaster University - with supervision from Prof George Aggidis - and Ocean Current Power Ltd (OCP). OCP is a start-up company exploring new methods of energy recovery from moving water sources such as rivers and ocean currents. The patent-pending technology is now being refined for efficiency and to increase electrical power output.

For more information

Visit here

Application deadline

Midnight, Wednesday 18th July 2018
Start date: October 2018