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Engineering: UKRI EPSRC CDT EngD Scholarship: The development of an iron-based alloy powder for wear resistant coatings applied using advanced plasma spray systems

   School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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  Dr N. P. Lavery  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Academic Supervisors:

Industry Supervisor:

  • Gavin Stratford
  • Philip Allnatt

Aligned programme of study: EngD in Materials, Modelling and Manufacturing

Mode of study: Full-time

Expected Interview Date: March - April 2023


LSN Diffusion is a manufacturer of a gas and water atomised alloy powders. Formed in 2012, LSN Diffusion is based in South Wales and supplies products to the UK and for export to Europe, USA and Asia. It’s product range covers international standard alloy powders and bespoke alloy powders for niche applications across a range of sectors. LSN combines considerable experience of powder atomisation with its suite of purposed designed and constructed atomizing systems to adapt and meet a customer’s often unique chemical and particulate requirements. LSN Diffusion holds a range of international certifications including accreditation to BS EN ISO 9001:2015, BS EN ISO 14001:2015 and Rolls Royce SABRe and GS3001.

As LSN Diffusion enters its second decade of operations, potential development opportunities have been recognised in a number of key areas, including automotive, additive manufacturing and energy sectors. Advancement in these fields will require LSN Diffusion to enhance its R&D investment and profile.

Project Aims:

Advanced wear-resistant coatings are integral to a wide range of engineering applications to improved resistance to detrimental phenomena such as sliding wear and scuffing.

This project will look at alloys that are used as coatings applied in an iron-based atomized powder format. When applied using plasma spray coating techniques, a specific particle size distribution is required to produce an effective wear resistant coating.

To commence this project, initially, an Iron-based sub-45µm powder will be subject to developmental trials involving process improvement to optimise the powders suitability for plasma spray coating application.

Once a successful candidate powder and plasma spray coating has been identified, trials will be performed to assess and document the microstructures, thermal and wear properties of the coating with the aim of iterative improvements to the process and technique. Assessment of other plasma spray coated alloy systems, in particular Co/Cr-based alloys, will form a vital part of the project with the overall aim of this part of the project being to produce an advanced iron-based plasma spray coating that is equal to or ideally superior to coatings currently in use.

The development of such an advanced iron-based coating has major benefits in automotive applications. For example, plasma spray coated cylinder bores can result in a ~50% lower friction coefficient between the cylinder and piston, which subsequently reduces fuel and oil consumption and associated weight and size reduction of the engine. All of these factors can deliver obvious environmental benefits.

Working locations:

The student will be based at Swansea University but will be expected to spend time with the sponsoring company on a regular basis, as required.

Sponsor Company:

LSN Diffusion


COATED M2A recognises applicants have a variety of backgrounds with different educational and research experiences. We do not expect applicants to be proficient users of any techniques/equipment mentioned, at the time of application. Our focus is to upskill our participants and training will be provided.

COATED M2A in the Faculty of Science and Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry, providing access to world class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. COATED M2A is committed to providing top quality research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.

Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN silver award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women and other under-represented groups are particularly welcomed. 

All applications will be anonymised prior to short listing.


Candidates must normally hold at minimum (or expect to obtain by the start date) an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), or a combination of degree and equivalent experience to the same level. 

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 6.0 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent.

Studentships for October 2023 entry are open to candidates of any nationality; however, please note:

International students (including EU countries) can apply, but due to UKRI funding rules, no more than 30% of the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Functional Industrial Coatings projects can be allocated to international students. Once the cap is reached, studentships will only be open to applicants eligible for tuition fees at the UK rate, as defined by UKCISA regulations.

Further details about eligibility, including information about the ‘international cap’ can be found at: Eligibility (identifying if you are a home or international student) – UKRI.


Please note that the programme requires some applicants to hold ATAS clearance; further details on ATAS scheme eligibility are available on the UK Government website.

ATAS clearance IS NOT required  to be held as part of the scholarship application process, successful award winners (as appropriate) are provided with details as to how to apply for ATAS clearance in tandem with scholarship course offer.

Funding Notes

This studentship covers a full award and includes a tax-free stipend (currently £22,000 per annum) and tuition fees, each for a period of four years, subject to meeting University progression requirements.
Also, a generous budget is available to support training, project costs, industry placements and travel to enable you to network and showcase your research at an international conference.

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