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PhD studentship in Chromium-Based Superalloys for Concentrated Solar Power

   School of Metallurgy & Materials

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

A funded 3-year UK/EU PhD studentship is available in the group of Dr Sandy Knowles within the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham, with an effective tax free stipend of £15,285 per year.

This student will work within the EU H2020 ‘COMPASsCO2’ Consortia: Components’ and Materials’ Performance for Advanced Solar Supercritical CO2 Powerplants -

The Knowles research group investigates new alloys for extreme environments including concentrated solar power, as well as aerospace gas turbines and nuclear fusion/fission reactors, [1,2]. This involves: (1) Design of new alloys; (2) Production through arc melting, powder metallurgy or additive manufacturing; (3) Characterisation using electron microscopy and x-ray diffraction; (4) Property evaluation - Mechanically using macro/micro-mechanical methods and failure investigation, as well as Environmental oxidation/corrosion resistance.

The overall efficiency of concentrated solar power is thermodynamically linked to operating temperature. However, increasing the operating temperature puts increased demand on the materials employed [3]. Recent work has demonstrated that bcc β Cr can be reinforced by β’ NiAl precipitates [4] to give ‘Cr-superalloys’, which offer advantages in terms of melting point, strength, abrasion and oxidation resistance.

The PhD will design and develop new Cr-superalloys optimised for supercritical CO2 concentrated solar power. Alloys will be produced, characterised and tested for balance of mechanical and environmental properties achieved, with an emphasis on advanced electron microscopy methods (e.g. SEM, FIB, TEM/STEM), in-situ micromechanical deformation, and oxidation/corrosion.

The candidate should have a 1st class Undergraduate or Masters degree (or equivalent) in Materials Science, or related discipline. A background in microstructural characterisation and/or mechanical testing would be advantageous.

To Apply please provide: (1) A curriculum vitae (CV), (2) A Cover Letter summarising your research interests and suitability for the position, and (3) The contact details of two Referees. 

Please send directly to Dr Sandy Knowles -

Funding Notes

Funded through EU H2020 ‘COMPASsCO2’ Consortia: Components’ and Materials’ Performance for Advanced Solar Supercritical CO2 Powerplants - View Website



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