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  “The development of new lead-free brasses”

   Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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  Prof Christopher Hutchinson, Dr Sebastian Thomas  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Professor Christopher Hutchinson (Monash), Dr Sebastian Thomas (Monash)

Application deadline:

accepting applications immediately

Fully Funded PhD Project: open to students worldwide

About the project

A key use of Brass in society is for the fabrication of fittings for plumbing applications. Under almost every house will be brass fittings in the water circulation systems. These fittings are usually manufactured by a series of thermo-mechanical processing steps: elevated temperature forging, heat treatments, machining, cold deformation, etc. For the last 30 yrs these were made from well-characterized and well-understood brasses containing ~33-39% zinc (Zn) and ~1.5-3.5% lead (Pb). The additions of Pb play a critical role in machinability.

In response to health concerns surrounding Pb leaching from brass plumbing fittings into drinking water, a new law was enacted in 2010 in California that limited Pb in brass plumbing fittings to a maximum of 0.25%. This law catalysed national interest surrounding Pb-free fittings and became USA national law in 2014. This law is now being replicated in many countries and is soon to be implemented in Australia.

The removal of the vast majority of Pb from plumbing brass has created huge challenges in the manufacturing of brass plumbing fittings and the last 5-10 years has seen the emergence of several new ‘Pb-free’ alloys. One of these new grades contains Silicon (Si) (e.g. 3-4%) and these brasses exhibit interesting properties but the microstructures are more complex than traditional brasses, have not been studied in detail or optimized with respect to composition and processing, and the optimum manufacturing steps are not yet well understood.

This project is focussed on the development of new Si-Brasses to replace Pb-containing Brasses for potable water applications.

This project is a direct collaboration with a large Australian industrial partner based in Melbourne, Reliance Worldwide, who provides brass components throughout Australia and exports to both Nth America and Europe. The candidate will interact frequently with the industrial partner and will have the opportunity to visit the industrial processing sites in Melbourne.

Interested candidates:

This project is open to students of any nationality although the ability to obtain a student visa to enter Australia is required. The candidate should have a 1st class Undergraduate or Masters degree (or equivalent) in Materials Science and Engineering, Metallurgy or a related discipline. A strong background in metallurgy, microstructural characterisation and/or mechanical testing is advantageous.

To express an interest please provide:

  1. a curriculum vitae (CV) including your academic transcripts
  2. a cover letter summarising your research interests and suitability for the position, and
  3. the contact details of two referees.

Please send to: Professor Christopher Hutchinson – [Email Address Removed],

Dr Sebastian Thomas – [Email Address Removed]

Living in Melbourne and the research environment at Monash University

Monash University is located in Melbourne, Australia. It is Australia’s largest University, ranked in the top 50 universities in the world, and the Department of Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) is the top-ranked MSE department in Australia. The successful applicant will be embedded within the Metallurgy & Corrosion Cluster which consists of ~8 academic staff members, ~ 70 PhD students and 30 post-docs. Whilst the student will be directly supervised by the academics listed above, they become part of a highly collaborative and collegial cohort of researchers where communication and interaction with other researchers and sharing of expertise and experiences is highly valued. The Metallurgy & Corrosion Cluster at Monash especially values and encourages diversity in its participants – diversity in all senses of its meaning. We recognise and value the contribution to science that arises from different opinions, from people of different backgrounds and experiences, and try to encourage this at every opportunity. As a result, our PhD students become highly competent researchers with excellent communication and teamwork skills and are highly sought after for post-doc positions at the most reputable research institutions in the word or future leaders in industry.

Metallurgy research Monash is one of the top-ranked fields of research at Monash and is one of the best known and highly ranked groups in the world ( Monash has a wide range of world class infrastructure to support your research including the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy (, the Monash X-Ray Platform (, and co-located at Monash University is the Australian Synchrotron ( All the facilities required for your project can be found at Monash.

Melbourne is the 2nd largest city in Australia, with a population of ~4.5 million and is frequently voted one of the most liveable cities in the world ( It is the arts and culture capital of Australia and Melbournians are passionate about food, coffee, culture and sport. Melbourne is a highly multicultural city welcoming people from all around the world who have made Melbourne their home. This is reflected in the diverse cuisine and languages one can find when walking around Melbourne. Melbourne is a waterfront city located on Port Phillip Bay and intersected by gardens, walking and riding paths and within day trip driving distance to wine regions, surf beaches and countryside (the bush!). Melbourne hosts more than 5 large universities, leading to a large and lively student population and is the host to major international sporting events such as the Australian Open and the Australian Grand Prix.

Engineering (12) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded PhD project of 3.5 yrs duration. Reasonable relocation costs will be provided as well as student healthcare coverage for non-Australian citizens. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to participate in an international conference and a domestic conference as part of their candidature.