EngD in Bainitic metallurgies for future rail steel to optimise resistance to wear, cracking, and thermal expansion in a production ready steel.

   Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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  Prof D Fletcher, Prof Dirk Engelberg  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project sits within the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Advanced Metallic Systems - a distinct research centre formed by a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester and the I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Centre, Dublin. Our doctoral students undertake a different doctoral programme, which includes a compulsory intensive technical and professional skills training programme throughout the 4-year project. For more information on our training programme content, aimed at converting graduates from a non-materials topic into metallurgy, please review our website (linked below).

This project is sponsored by British Steel, and supervised by Professor Dirk Engelberg in the Department of Materials at the University of Manchester, with Professor David Fletcher in the Department of Mechnical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. Therefore the candidate will be based at Manchester but travel regularly to Sheffieldr to access equipment held lthere. Travel costs are met by the project.

Rail is central to the low carbon transport networks of the future, and the rail industry is constantly looking for innovations to improve overall system reliability. The whole rail system is reliant on the quality and performance of the rails themselves. New rail steel grades may offer a route to enhanced track performance, and bainitic rail steels offer the potential to mitigate one of the major drivers for rail breaking and replacement – rolling contact fatigue (RCF). (One type of RCF defect alone cost Network Rail £4m/year, for example). Bainitic rail steels have seen effective initial service in the Eurotunnel and elsewhere.

We wish to develop novel steel chemistries with suitable bainitic properties and transformation kinetics that will not be adversely effected by undesired micro inclusions. We also propose to link this work with ongoing rail/wheel testing research via investigating the wear and fatigue behaviour of both existing and novel bainitic chemistries, seeking to better understand their in-service behaviour and the root of their excellent rolling contact fatigue resistance. We aim to combine these research activities into a new generation of bainitic rail steels to bring to large scale manufacturing and market.

This project will be part of the established collaboration with British Steel under the UK Rail Research Innovation Network (UKRRIN), offering the opportunity to work with a cohort of sponsored students and options to work closely with British Steel either at our Rotherham R&D facility where joint equipment is located, or at our manufacturing facility in Scunthorpe as suits student and project needs. British Steel staff are closely integrated with the University and there will be regular contact and opportunities to work jointly.

The work will make use of the world-class metallurgical facilities at Sheffield and Manchester, in addition to the suite of rail-specific characterization equipment jointly acquired under UKRRIN. There will be opportunities for metallurgical and mechanical modelling, wear and tribological testing (using the SUROS 2 twin disc machine and novel optical monitoring system), and generation and characterization of test chemistries. Access to these facilities will give the opportunity to be at the forefront of steels research, giving insight into the behaviour in the rail-wheel interface that has never previously been examined.

For more information about the project contact Professor Dirk Engelberg ([Email Address Removed]) 

Engineering (12) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

UKRI stipend (£18,622 in 23-24) plus a top-up of £5,000 per year. Total £23,622 p.a. tax-free.
We recommend candidates apply immediately, as the project will close as soon as a suitable candidate is secured. Apply directly to the University of Manchester, as responses via FindaPhD are not considered as an application.

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