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Prevention of biofouling of polymer composites for application in the marine environment

   Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

About the Project

This PhD project is in support of the larger Belfast based UK Research and Innovation project for developing the world's first zero emission high-speed hydrofoil electric ferry led by Artemis Technologies Ltd. (ATL) and Ulster University as core partner. This is delivered through design & development of (i) 3D woven preforms for foiling boats, (ii) integrated sensing systems, and (iii) anti-fouling systems.

To achieve zero emission in marine vessels, it is essential to prevent biofouling (i.e. unwanted attachment and growth of microorganisms, algae, bacteria or plants on wet surfaces). The enhanced drag force caused by biofilm formation on the surface of the vessel, increases fuel consumption, reduces the speed and accelerates aging of the vessel, resulting in substantial economic costs and damage to the ecosystem. Hence, it is essential to develop effective and environmentally friendly antifouling strategies for hydrofoils. This can be done throughs surface texturing (e.g. using 3D printing or laser), surface treatment and coating, sensor integration for detecting and monitoring biofilm formation and removal of biofilm using electrical or ultrasonic vibrations.

The project is comprised of an extensive literature review, experimental work, publication of findings and thesis submission. The PhD candidate will join a vibrant group of researchers within the Advanced Future Materials and Manufacturing (AFM2) group at the School of Engineering with the opportunity to work in the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE).

The PhD researcher will be trained in the areas of smart polymer nanocomposites, additive manufacturing, design and engineering, composite manufacturing and characterization techniques (e.g. SEM, FTIR, electrical and surface properties measurement, mechanical and physical testing, etc). In addition, the PhD researcher will travel nationally and internationally to present his/her work in related conferences and events.

-Candidates with background in material science and engineering are encouraged to apply. 

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