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Hybrid piezoelectric films and smart icephobic coatings with acoustic wave strategies for active ice protection in wind turbines (Ref: RENU20/EE/MPEE/FU)


   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Prof R Fu, Prof G McHale  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU)is a collaborative doctoral training programme run by the Universities of Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham. In addition to undertaking an individual scientific research project at one of the three partner Universities, doctoral candidates will engage with added value training opportunities, for example in business, innovation and internationalisation through a 4-year training programme that has been designed to maximise the benefits of a cohort approach to doctoral training. The start date is 1st October 2020.

Ice buildup (via super-cold humid air, frost formation, frozen condensation or freezing rain) poses significant operational and safety challenges on wind/marine turbines. For wind energy generation, these turbines often suffer significant drops in efficiency/production, severe damages or accidents. This project is to research hybrid smart thin materials combining piezoelectric films and inherently icephobic surface/coatings, to generate surface acoustic waves (SAWs), which are used as anti-icing and de-icing mechanisms to mitigate real-time ice issues for the wind turbines. The piezoelectric thin films can generate SAWs directly onto surfaces of structures which can then excite a synergistic mechano-thermal effect for both anti-icing/de-icing functions, and to simultaneously perform ice sensing using these thin film acoustic wave devices. The project will involve thin film deposition and characterization, design, fabrication and testing of surface acoustic wave devices, as well as acoustic wave compatible surface and coatings. Anti-icing/de-icing performance using thin film acoustic waves with smart icephobic coating materials will be tested and evaluated. The work includes both experimental and simulation/theoretical studies.

This project is supervised by Prof Richard Fu. For informal queries about the project, please contact [Email Address Removed].

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 1st Class (Hons) or 2:1; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above) in an appropriate subject area.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

The application closing date is 11 May 2020 and interviews will take place in late May/early June. Please note that interviews, should they be arranged, will be online rather than in person due to COVID-19.

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RENU20/.....) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship covers full fees and an annual stipend at UKRI rates (for 2019/20, this was £15,009 pa). Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Note that up to 3 offers of a PhD place will be made for the ReNU CDT projects advertised by Northumbria University.
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