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New generation of brake pads – design and tribological testing (Advert Reference: SF18/MCE/ZABIEGAJ)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Road traffics and industrial processes that are well-known as exhaust emissions producers; however, released Particulate Matter (PM) originates also from a number of non-exhaust processes, brake and tyres, involving corrosion and mechanical abrasion. Every application of a friction brake leads to the release of direct wear products, either gaseous or particulate matter. Depending on speed of a vehicle, brake pressure and formulation of brake materials, the released wear debris can be partially attracted to the vehicle hardware and fall on road surfaces, but a considerable fraction is released as airborne matter (carbon soot, metals etc). Recent analysis show that due to an increasing number of vehicles in operation (over 1 billion units in 2010), the contribution of road transportation to environmental pollution becomes significant.

This project faces the environmental and health concerns related to PM released into the environment by continuous exhaustion of automotive brake systems, including source categories, PM size distribution and speciation source profiles, all coming from brake wear emissions. Furthermore, the study will involve a new eco-friendly brake pad formulation design, by replacement of potentially hazardous ingredients; either structural and/or morphological improvements towards development of an optimal material which would meet requirements determined by transportation safety, environment, automotive market demands.

Moreover, as the study deals with industry related ongoing issue, the work will be performed in the tight automotive industrial framework, with functionalisation and material implementation on site of the UK recognisable industrial partner.

The successful candidate will be working internationally, as a part of the multidisciplinary research group ‘Smart Materials and Surfaces’ and in VSB – Technical University of Ostrava in Czech Republic, involving Centre of Advanced Innovation Technologies and Nanotechnology Centre. The work is also supported by industrial partner performing design, development and manufacturing of materials for automotive brake pads.

Please note eligibility requirement:

* Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]) in Material Engineering; or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
* Appropriate IELTS score, if required

This project is well suited to motivated and hard-working candidates with a keen interest in Material Science, Tribology, Air pollution, Automotives. The applicant should have excellent communication skills including proven ability to write in English.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

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. SF18/MCE/ZABIEGAJ) will not be considered.

Start Date: 1 March 2019 or 1 June 2019 or 1 October 2019

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 hold an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded research project


D. Zabiegaj, M. Caccia, M. E. Casco, F. Ravera, J. Narciso, Synthesis of robust carbon monoliths with tailored hierarchical pore structure for selective CO2 capture, Journal of CO2 Utilization, 26 (2018) 36-44,
D. Zabiegaj, D. Giuranno, M. T. Buscaglia, L. Liggieri, F. Ravera, Activated carbon monoliths from particle stabilized foams, Microporous and Mesoporous Materials 239 (2017) 45-53, DOI:10.1016/j.micromeso.2016.09.046
K. Malachovaa, J. Kukutschova, Z. Rybkovaa, H. Sezimovaa, D. Placha, K. Cabanova, P. Filip, Toxicity and mutagenicity of low-metallic automotive brake pad materials, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 131 (2016) 37–44 ,
D. Plachá, P. Peikertová, J. Kukutschová, P. W. Lee, K. Cabanová, J. Karas (2016). Identification of organic compounds released from low-metallic automotive model brake pad and its non-airborne wear particles. SAE International Journal of Materials and Manufacturing, 9(1) (2016) 123-132, SAE International,
Kukutschová, J., P. Moravec, V. Tomásek, V. Matejka, J.Smolík, J. Schwarz, On airborne nano/microsized wear particles released from low-metallic automotive brakes. Environmental Pollution, 159(4) (2011) 998-1006. Elsevier.

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