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Quantitative Assessment of Resistance to Hydrogen-Induced Stress Cracking (HISC) of Duplex Stainless Steels - funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation (NSIRC222 PhD Studentship)


Dr K Sotoudeh , Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Duplex stainless steels (DSSs) are widely used in oil and gas subsea applications, such as pipelines, and manifolds and risers in production systems, due to their superior properties. In these environments, DSS components are often connected to ferritic steel components, which necessitate the application of cathodic protection (CP) as a means of corrosion prevention. Whilst successful in preventing degradation of the ferritic parts, CP can generate hydrogen at the bare surface of the subsea structures, whereupon, it can be absorbed into the alloy and cause embrittlement. Cracking of this embrittled material is known as hydrogen-induced stress cracking (HISC) and is recognised as a major cause of catastrophic failures in service, which are of significant fatal and financial losses. However, there are currently no established/standardised guidelines for evaluating resistance to cracking of DSSs in such environments, in a quantitative manner and against any established acceptance criterion.

Project Outline
The main objectives of this PhD project are to develop an in-depth insight to the cracking behaviour of DSSs once exposed to hydrogen, and provide new, quantitative methods for assessing and designing against HISC, as well as providing data to enable production of more reliable assists. This also helps risks of HISC to be managed, and therefore increase safety and reduce the operation costs and issues associated with, potentially fatal, catastrophic failures. A series of experimental and modelling tasks (but not limited to the following items), will be undertaken:
 Advanced microstructural characterisation of a few DDS product forms (and weldments);
 Modelling of test specimen geometries, and numerical calculation of strain/stress distributions along the stress raiser to be incorporated in those specimens;
 Mechanical and environmental testing of a number of specimens with different geometries (size, notch acuity);
 Post characterisation of tested specimens using metallography and fractography ;
 Data analysis and interpretation of the findings obtained.

Candidate Requirements
Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree, in a Materials or Mechanical Engineering field. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable.

About the University
Leicester is a leading University committed to international excellence, world-changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. We are strongly committed to inclusivity, promoting equality and celebrating diversity among our staff and students. You will develop your career in a supportive and collaborative academic environment in one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities; elite in the excellence of our research, yet distinctive for the genuine synergy between our research and teaching.

NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with a number of academic partners and universities and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the University of Leicester, Lloyds Register Foundation and TWI. The funding covers the cost of Home/Overseas tuition fees and a standard tax-free RCUK stipend of £15,285/year for three years.

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