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Graphene/Nanoparticles Reinforced Multiscale Carbon/Glass Composites for Aerospace and Automobile Engineering

Project Description

We are pleased to announce PhD studentship project in “Graphene/Nanoparticles Reinforced Multiscale Carbon/Glass Composites for Aerospace and Automobile Engineering”. This project aims to develop high performance carbon/glass fibre composites to improve the fatigue and crack resistance of composites used in aerospace and automotive structures by nanoscale and using nanomatierals (graphene, carbon nanotubes etc) reinforcement.

Fibre reinforced composites have excellent in plane strength and stiffness and are being used in increasing quantities in aerospace, sports, automotive and wind turbine blade industries. However fibre reinforced composites are weak in their through thickness direction. This weakness can result in parts failing by delamination in service, either from external loads or impact events. The presence of a delamination can seriously reduce
the strength and stiffness of a laminate especially under compressive buckling loads, potentially leading to catastrophic failure.
We have developed new generation of multi-scale composites using graphene/nanoparticles reinforcement in glass/carbon epoxy composites to increase the delamination resistance. Graphene/nanoparticles, due to its nano dimension, can reinforce the polymer matrix at nanoscale level where the carbon/glass fibres cannot reach. Our research shows that nanoscale reinforcement of polymer matrix used in glass/carbon fibre composites significantly reduces crack propagation in composites, reduce failure due to delamination and significantly improves fracture toughness [Williams et al, Journal of Materials Science 48, 3, 1005-1013, 2013]. In addition it can also increases the electrical conductivity of composites.

As a part of this PhD project we will develop joint Innovate UK projects with aerospace, automotive, marine, and wind turbine manufacturers to implement use of multi-scale composites which can offer the following advantages for the composites products used in their industries
• Improved fracture toughness and impact resistance of composites
• Improved fatigue life of composites
• Improved compressive and shear strength/modulus of composites
• Increased vibrational damping of composites
• Improvement in electrical conductivity for electrostatic dissipation and EMI shielding
• Improvement in shear modulus of adhesive joints used for composites joining due to graphene addition
• Improvement in heat distortion temperature due to addition of graphene for auto and adhesive application
• Improvement in flexural modulus of components used for auto and aerospace applications

What will you learn during PhD (PhD Training)?
The student will learn the following techniques/skills
• Nano-materials dispersion methods and nanomaterials modification of carbon/glass fibre composite laminates
• Nano-modified carbon/glass fibre composite lay-up/slacking, vacuum bagging manufacturing techniques.
• Advanced carbon/glass fibre composites manufacturing using high pressure autoclave curing
• Mechanical testing of nano-modified carbon/glass fibre composite, inter laminar shear stress testing, mode I, mode II fracture toughness test and delamination after impact test

Industrial Collaborations:
We will work in collaboration with Cambridge Nanosystems, which is a world leading high quality, high performance graphene and nanoparticles synthesis and its industrial applications in engineering sectors. We will also aim to engage with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE systems and Airbus which have been working with our composite centre over number of years.

Future Job prospects:
Innovative advanced composites manufacturing and testing techniques will be highly useful for job opportunities in aerospace and automotive companies like, Airbus, GKN, Rolls Royce, Red Bull (formula one team), Jaguar Land Rover and many other small and medium scale composites manufacturing for renewable energy, marine and construction industry.

Entry requirements:
Applicants should have an equivalent of first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, science (chemistry/physics) or engineering. The ideal candidate should have some understanding in the area of materials science, mechanical engineering (or related field), manufacturing, chemistry or physics background. The candidate should be self-motivated, have good communication skills for regular interaction with other stakeholders, with an interest for industrial research.

Funding Notes

The student needs to support the PhD tuition fees (£9,000/year for UK or EU student, and £18,500/year for overseas students) and the living expenses (approximately £800-£1000 per month). The cost for running the composites manufacturing and testing experiments and facilities cost will be supported by the Enhanced Composite and Structures Centre at Cranfield

How good is research at Cranfield University in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 156.70

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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