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Nonlinear Shallow-water Model for Interfacial Instabilities in Aluminium Reduction Cells

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  • Full or part time
    Prof S Molokov
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Eligibility: UK/EU/International
Tuition Fees + Bursary £15000 per year
Three years fixed term

PI: Prof Sergei Molokov:


Aluminium is produced in large electrolytic baths with high electric current going through a mixture of alumina and the so-called cryolite (a special kind of electrolyte). The process involves such high electric currents that aluminium production plants take about 3% of all the electricity generated worldwide, which amounts to $10 billion annually. Thus any improvement of the process would lead to significant economic benefits.

The problem with improving efficiency of the cells is in the so-called magnetohydrodynamic interaction which leads to unwanted so-called interfacial waves within the baths. If the amplitude of the waves becomes high, the bath needs to be shut down, which is nearly impossible to do during continuous operation of the aluminium plants. Thus, a very good understanding of the nature of the waves is required.

The aims and objectives of the study is 1) to create a nonlinear shallow-water numerical model of the interfacial waves in the cells, 2) to gain a good understanding of the phenomena in nonuniform magnetic fields, 3) to compare the results of the model with the experiments, which have already been performed, 4) to work on new ideas of suppression of the waves in collaboration with a large aluminium producer, and Rio Tinto Alcan, which is involved in CPU-time consuming modelling of the full equations.


Our research in Manufacturing and Materials Engineering builds on our historic research strengths at Coventry, and adds new research teams through investment and growth. It integrates seamlessly with the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, our flagship collaboration with Unipart Manufacturing.

This area of research will take a holistic approach to fabrication and manufacturing, focusing on the three strands of Materials, Processes, and Products; and underpinned by our expertise in Metrology and Advanced Experimentation.

We aim to be the research partner of choice for manufacturing industry in adding value, effecting knowledge transfer, generating intellectual property, and raising new technologies from concept up through the Manufacturing Readiness Levels.

Our summary research themes:
• Process Control / Product Verification.
• Advanced Metrology and Experimentation
• Supply Chain Management
• Materials for Advanced Technologies
• Integrated Product Enhancement

How to apply:

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