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Fully Funded M2A EngD Scholarship: Development of a zinc-magnesium-aluminium metallic coating for use with pre-finished steels in the construction industry

   College of Engineering

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  Prof James Sullivan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Swansea United Kingdom Applied Chemistry Chemical Engineering Chemical Physics Manufacturing Engineering Materials Science

About the Project

Start date: October 2021

Academic supervisor: Professor James SullivanProfessor David Penney

Industrial supervisor: Dr Peter Barker

Sponsoring company: TATA Steel UK, Colors


The Tata Steel group is among the world’s 10 largest manufacturers of steel and is spread over various global locations. The Coated products division of Tata Steel UK produce over 250 KT per annum of pre-painted steel for cladding applications in the construction market. The premium branded products produced at the Tata Shotton site are often supported by maintenance free warranties for up to 40 years, which is backed up by data from an extensive global weathering program. 

Traditionally all premium branded products are produced using a Zinc(95%)/Al(5%) galvanised substrate. However, there is growing evidence that the galvanised substrates using Zn/Mg alloys can provide an equivalent performance at reduced cost.

Project Aims:

Coated products produced using known Zn/Mg alloys can be prone to problems with flexibility and filiform corrosion. The project will aim to consider various cost-effective alloying additions such as aluminium or silicon derivatives to optimise galvanising pot chemistries, to produce a galvanised product suitable for use in the manufacture of Colorcoat products.

The candidate would be required to produce lab scale Zn/Mg galvanised steel panels of various compositions with novel additions, and assess the physical and corrosion performance using SVET, time-lapse microscopy and accelerated exposure tests such as continuous salt spray and prohesion testing. These techniques will enable the candidate to evaluate corrosion mechanisms in-situ at a microstructural scale. This combination of microstructural engineering and in-situ monitoring of corrosion is unique to Swansea University and the candidate will obtain a diverse skill set linking metallurgy and corrosion.

The candidate would need to work closely with the Shotton galvanising team to recommend pot chemistry and to evaluate material produced from controlled production line trials. The candidate will gain a critical insight into the process of taking technology from the lab to production. The successful candidate will integrate into the metallic coatings group at Swansea University where they will have direct access to world lead coatings manufacturing and evaluation equipment. They will join a thriving research group with support from post-doctoral researchers and fellow doctorate researchers who are all focussed on next generation metallic coatings.

Predicted Outcomes:

The research will provide information relating to potential pot chemistries that will be used to develop manufacturing capability at our Shotton site.


We welcome applications from candidates with a degree (minimum level 2:1) in Materials Science and Engineering or Metallurgy, but will accept other physical sciences disciplines (Chemistry, Engineering, Physics). Equivalent relevant experience that would enable the candidate to fulfil the role may also be considered.

A good appreciation of corrosion performance or how materials may degrade is desirable.

We would normally expect candidates to have met the University’s English Language requirements (e.g. IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) by point of application. 

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is not open to ‘International’ candidates.

Funding Notes

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £20,000 p.a. for a period of four years.