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Material degradation study of energy storage materials for renewable technologies PhD


   School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing (SATM)


About the Project

This is a self-funded PhD position to work with Dr Adnan Syed in the Surface Engineering and Precision Centre. The PhD project will focus studying high temperature corrosion mechanisms in details to identify the material degradation details in extreme environments. A novel techniques/method will be developed with focus on better prediction and more accurate measurement of high temperature corrosion rate involving mathematical models validated through simulation, experiments, and analysis. 

CSP technologies use a mirror configuration that concentrates the sun’s solar energy onto a receiver, which converts it to heat. The heat is then converted into steam to drive a turbine that produces electrical power. CSP plants can use thermal energy storage systems to store the power until it’s needed, for example during periods of minimal sunlight. The ability to store energy is what makes CSP a flexible source of renewable energy.

A fluid (often, molten salts) is heated inside the receiver and is used to generate steam, which drives a turbine generator. Thermal (TES) is a technology that stocks thermal energy by heating or cooling a storage medium so that the stored energy can be used at a later time for heating and cooling applications and power generation. TES systems can be used particularly in buildings and industrial processes. The risk of materials failure is further increased by thermal cycling and the possibility of mechanical stress. The lack of ability of early detection and timely prevention of high temperature corrosion has resulted in many TES failures leading to long term maintenance and replacement of parts.

The alloy material of TES are prone to high temperature corrosion attack because of the corrosive nature of molten salt. The salt deposits and its direct contact with alloys material at elevated temperatures. cause high-temperature corrosion.

You will investigate various alloys types and corrosion testing methods to determine a suitable alloy and coating system The project includes a detailed literature survey leads to the development of a test matrix, includes test conditions, type of alloys used including bare or coated alloys. The project includes testing the material in the facility available at Cranfield’s high temperature corrosion laboratory. A detailed analytical phase. for better understanding of the microstructure, requires working on the advanced microscopy tools such as SEM/EDX, FIB and TEM. Also use dimensional metrology for metal loss evaluation. Thermodynamics calculations using FactSage software will also be used. Also, a consideration of applying electrochemical characterisation techniques using online electrochemistry and interpret corrosion rates.

You will be based at the Surface Engineering and Manufacturing Centre, which provides state-of-the-art equipment for the testing, analysis and characterisation of materials, of exposed corroded materials. This is a self-funded PhD open to UK, EU and international applicants. The Centre also holds network with the aerospace and energy sector which help the students in the result discussions, a possibility of meetings with relevant industrial clients for networking and technical guidance.

Research carried out during this PhD project will lead to better understanding of high-temperature molten salt corrosion that will eventually:

  1. Enable early failure identification; 
  2. Enable material selection criteria for alloys and coatings systems;
  3. Increase alloys and coating material knowledge of performance in extreme environment;
  4. Improve TES material outcome. Although the research proposed here will focus on TES, by changing the testing conditions, the technology developed here could be easily adapted for aerospace and thermal power applications.

You will work in a multidisciplinary environment consisting of material scientist, chemists, engineers, physicists, material scientists. During the PhD, you will gain the invaluable experience of working at the intersection of several research fields with the challenges and opportunities that this represents. On addition, this self-funded PhD project includes the ability to participate in industry-led research initiatives and access to the Cranfield Doctoral Training Network. There is the opportunity to attend an international conference in the UK and overseas.

You will gain knowledge of high temperature materials application for energy and aerospace sector. The knowledge of alloys material behaviour in aggressive conditions and its serviceability for the relevant sector. The micro level analysis of the material structure would enable you to understand science better at atomic level. You will learn the skills of presenting the results to small and large groups of people via presentations in conferences and meetings.

At the end of the PhD, you will have become a well-rounded independent scientist with the possibility to progress your career either in academia or industry in several research areas from material science and engineering to energy materials.

Entry requirements

Candidates should have a minimum of an upper second (2:1) honours degree (or equivalent) preferably in one of the following disciplines: Chemistry/ Material Science/ Physics/ Mechanical engineering or related fields. Candidates with a MSc degree in these disciplines will be desirable.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Name: Dr Adnan Syed

Email: 

If you are eligible to apply for this research studentship, please complete the online application form.


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