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Investigating the effect of the combination of vibration, humidity and temperature on the durability and resilience of structures

   Doctoral College

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  Dr P Atkins, Dr P Cacciola, Dr Alessandro Tombari  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The combined effect of temperature, humidity and dynamic actions on structures is a well-recognized and unresolved challenge by the scientific community. Climate change and ongoing engineering developments to meet CO2 emission targets pose additional research questions that are not yet answered. The extraordinary challenge that climate change poses to our existing and new infrastructure is a growing concern that is being widely discussed. The approach undertaken up-to-now to address the impact of combined environmental/dynamic actions on civil engineering structures is based on interpolation and correlation of data measured in situ or in laboratory at ambient temperature over a long period of time. Health monitoring of existing structures such as bridges is clearly affected by this lack of knowledge and consequent intervention of repair and rehabilitation might be misguided. The use of traditional and novel high-performance sustainable materials for the strengthening of existing structures (bridges in particular) opens novel scientific questions about their impact on the vibration characteristic of the structures and how the temperature/humidity might alter further their performance. The combined effect of temperature, humidity and vibration do not affect only civil engineering infrastructures but also pose serious challenges for automotive and aerospace applications. Fuel cells and batteries for example are exposed to high magnitude impact loads and vibrations as well as high-level cyclic stresses due to humidity and temperature variations. The consequent stress level due to the combined actions can exacerbate defects and may result in operational failure. The development of novel fuel cell technologies and batteries for automotive and aerospace applications requires testing under various vibration conditions including shock loading and fatigue tests in a controlled environment. For transport applications developing robust batteries is a key market requirement, increasing vehicle range and reducing cost of ownership through longer battery life, and therefore vital to accelerate uptake of electric vehicles. This research project utilises vibration testing and analysis in different environmental conditions to develop innovative research.

The successful student will study the combined effect of temperature, humidity and vibrations either on civil engineering infrastructures or on batteries, considering their background. A multidisciplinary team will supervise accordingly. The research objective for this PhD project will be able to make a step change from existing work, examining the effect of vibration in a new way, working to understand how the combined effects of vibrations and environmental actions could be used to improve the reliability of structures or mechanical components.

Experimental work to study the impact of vibrations on structural models or mechanical components will be undertaken in the new Climatic Environmental Chamber at the University of Brighton using state of the art structural dynamic facilities to replicate real life vibrations conditions. The performance of the structures will be monitored during the vibration testing in this rigorously controlled environment to produce new insight. Advanced multi-phase numerical models will be developed to support optimisation of the performance and the safety of the structures. Specifically, the dynamic behaviour will be modelled through a stochastic approach accounting for the uncertainties of external environmental inputs. The reliability of the structures will be then optimised in probabilistic sense using a Monte Carlo approach.

The novelty of the approach gives potential for this research to be world leading. It will also have tangible impact, to address timely current and future challenges caused by climate change on civil engineering structures and create innovative solutions for 21st century automotive and space vehicles.

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded by the University of Brighton and is open to applications from candidates considering a full time or part time mode of study. The studentship consists of full UK fees, a Doctoral Stipend at the UKRI rate and a research training support grant. FT study, the studentship is for 3 years, PT study for 6 years, with the stipend being 50% of the UKRI rate.
A part time route is not available to applicants who will need a student visa to study in the UK.
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