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Electrofusion Couplers for Thermoplastic Composite Pipes

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Tomlinson
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

University of Sheffield – Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Chemistry
Industrial Partner: TWI

Non-metallic pipes, made of plastics or composites, are ideal for transporting corrosive fluids over a long distance in the oil and gas sector. The proposed research will focus on the onshore flowline applications and the use of Thermoplastic Composite Pipes (TCP). Current TCP coupler technology, used to connect or terminate the ends of the pipe, relies on steel end connectors, which are not ideal from a corrosion and lifetime point of view. Failure of the end fittings lead to leaks and risk of contamination of the wider environment.

The project will develop a novel electrofusion connection methodology for joining composite pipes. Electrofusion jointing uses electricity to heat a filament wire that is manufactured into the carcass of the fitting; this melts the pipe and fitting locally and produces a joint between the coupler and the pipe as they cool. Electrofusion couplers are seen as having the potential for this application eliminating the need for metallic couplers, reducing both cost and installation times, and improving performance.

Topics for research and development will include: new electrofusion welding technology and weld performance (eg surface quality, weld material and chemistry, pipe ovality, geometry etc); coupler concepts and load transfer; validation testing -performed on coupons, small scale prototypes and finally full-scale couplers.

It is proposed for the student to spend a large proportion of their 4-year PhD at the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), which is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by TWI. The aim of the Centre is to unite academia and industry, and the student will be in a cohort of postgraduate students from more than 20 other UK universities.

The project will be working closely with thermoplastic pipes manufacturers and electrofusion manufacturers and thus will include 3-6 visits to their facilities.

Previous Experience / Requirements
The successful candidate should have or be expected to obtain a 1st class or good 2.1 degree in Mechanical or Materials Engineering, Chemistry or Physics.

They should also have an interest in experimental testing, strain measurement and materials.

For an informal discussion on the project please email Dr Rachel Tomlinson: [Email Address Removed]

To apply please use our online postgraduate application form at

Funding Notes

A fully funded, 4 year studentship is available for UK and EU students with 3 year residency. The stipend is at least £15000 (tax-free) per annum.

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