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Development of high performance coatings for geothermal drilling applications (NSIRC 220)

  • Full or part time
    Dr M Riley
    Dr S Paul
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description


Following its long history of expertise and knowledge in coatings, material properties and performance, TWI has teamed up with experts in geothermal drilling technology including operators, specialists with experience in materials performance in harsh geothermal environments and development of graphene-based materials and coatings, and simulation experts, to develop a novel and cost-effective drilling technology for geothermal systems on the Geo-Drill project:
The consortium has 12 partners from 7 countries, including end users and geothermal drilling operators and research facilities, and aims to reduce the costs of drilling to depths of ~5km and at temperatures of over 200°C. This will be achieved by improving the lifetime of drilling components through advanced materials and coatings. High performance coated surfaces will be investigated and optimized for operating in the aggressive environments of geothermal drilling and will aim to improve the lifetime of components in medium and high temperature geothermal.

Project Outline

The project requires a PhD student to study the fundamental materials properties and performance of candidate materials and coatings for Geothermal applications: specifically drill components, which are subject to severe corrosion, erosion, wear and combined effects thereof. Work will include generation of corrosion and corrosion-erosion performance data for a range of thermal spray coating technologies, including the development of new high entropy (HEA) alloys and graphene oxide doped materials, as well as assessment of current technologies, such as metallic coatings including nanocrystalline/amorphous alloys and cermet coatings that incorporate hard carbide phases in metallic binders. Work will include extensive characterisation and assessment of current benchmark technologies and the study of the relationship between thermal spray process parameters and coating performance for the newly developed materials. The project will include assessment of corrosion (using electrochemical testing), erosion and tribological performance on the various coating materials.
The project will also enable study of the wider issues relating to geothermal applications such as joining technologies, as well as manufacturing development and prototyping of coated demonstrator components.

About Industrial Sponsor
TWI is a world leading research and technology organisation. Over 800 staff give impartial technical support in welding, joining, materials science, structural integrity, NDT, surfacing and packaging. Services include generic research, confidential R&D, technical information, technology transfer, training and qualification.

NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with lead academic partner Brunel University, 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
The University of Leicester is a leading UK university committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Leicester is consistently one of the most socially inclusive of the UK’s leading universities with a long-standing commitment to providing fairer and equal access to higher education.
The University has been ranked as the 35th most sustainable university in the world and 9th in the UK according to UI GreenMetric. Leicester is ranked in the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings. A substantial proportion of the University research (75%) was judged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health culture, and the environment.

Candidate Requirements
Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree. Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in experimental skills relating to the project scope are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable.

Funding Notes

Funding Notes

This project is funded by TWI and academic partners. The studentship will provide successful Home/EU students with a minimum stipend of £16k/year and will cover the cost of tuition fees. Overseas applicants are welcome to apply. c

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