Not only will this PhD broaden your horizons, ensure you have a full suite of skills and understanding straight from experts in this field, but will also give your CV a competitive edge upon graduation.
The concept of lightweighting is driven by benefits gained from the automotive industry in terms of using materials other than steel, as a basis for reducing the overall vehicle weight, and subsequently reducing the operating costs and operational environmental impact. The focus is principally towards the selection of materials, however consideration could also be given towards the use of advanced manufacturing processes that add material to high stress areas, and remove from low stress areas. Whilst weight is relatively easily reduced through the use of materials such as carbon fibre, the associated costs realised through the operational use of such materials is currently prohibitive in many cases. Projections however from the automotive industry suggest that future trends in the production of lightweight materials may mean that they become more cost effective, and open new opportunities for use within aerospace and wind power generation.
Many Through Life Assessment techniques are semi-quantitative, relying on generalised rules and guidelines in order to produce an indication of the performance of the product, which is typically measured in terms of its environmental performance only. Small design-driven changes to the underlying product are highly unlikely to result with a variation in the existing Through Life Assessment due to the lack of fidelity in the model, meaning that the designer is subsequently left to intuitively learn and interpret the impact rather than have quantitative guidance.
Given the future potential for application for lightweighting, and the potential benefits from an operational performance perspective, it is advantageous that appropriate support is provided from a high-fidelity tool to guide the lightweighting manufacturing and material oriented decision making of the designers. The research will therefore aim to develop a tool to support design decision making that evaluates the through-life costs of lightweighting options, considering the design, manufacture, in-service, maintenance, reuse, and disposal life-phases. The tool will provide a series of numerical measures that will present the trade-offs between lightweight materials and manufacturing processes which can be easily updated to incorporate advances in both of these areas, and present the information to the designer in a fashion that effectively supports their decision-making.
The research project will use example case studies from automotive, aerospace and wind-power generation to verify the proposed approach, validate the techniques used to provide the through-life assessment, and evaluate its performance in practical applications. It is anticipated that support from the use of such tools will demonstrate that only the most appropriate lightweighting applications are qualified where clear through-life benefit may be achieved.
Funding is available to cover Home Fees and Stipend. International applicants will have to provide evidence that they can pay the difference in fees of circa £15k per annum