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Understanding Elastomer Behaviour in the Development of Performance Tires

School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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Prof D G Bucknall No more applications being accepted

About the Project

The project will explore the use of elastomer-polymer blends to develop improved performance in car and truck tire performance. The project is a collaboration between HWU and Continental Tires (Germany).

The challenge in improving car and truck tire performance is to reduce its rolling resistance, whilst simultaneously increasing energy dissipation during braking. It is known that blending of natural and synthetic rubbers with thermoplastic polymers can have profound effects on tire performance. However, a priori molecular level understanding and the relationship to the observed mechanical property changes are still not well understood. The overall aim of the project is therefore to understand structure-property relationships in elastomer-polymer blends in model tire compounds.

The observed property enhancements are known to be dominated by changes in molecular dynamics, and yet the correlation to either the blend structure or the continuum mechanics is not well understood. This project will therefore initially synthesize model styrene-butadiene elastomer and linear polymers (controlled MW & DPI) as the basis of the subsequent studies.

These model systems will be used to investigate the effect the polymers have on the glass transition temperature (Tg), and also temperature dependence of the dynamics and dynamic heterogeneity of the elastomers in blends. These data will be correlated with the blend morphology and chain structure and mechanical properties, including basic deformation performance, but also tire related metrics of roll resistance, wear and tribology.

The primary techniques to determine the dynamic properties over a wide frequency regime will be studied by a combination of dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) coupled with quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS). Structural studies to evaluate the blend structure will exploit optical and electron microscopy coupled with X-ray and neutron scattering. These techniques will be combined with other analytical techniques incl DSC and GPC. Specialist equipment for compounding and tire testing will also be accessed through our collaborator Continental Tires (Germany).

Name of supervisor: Prof David Bucknall, email: [Email Address Removed]

All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). This scholarship is only open to UK/EU applicants who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC.

Level of Award
We have a number of scholarships available. The annual stipend will be approx. £15,000 and full fees will be paid for 3.5 years.

Closing Date
All applications must be received by 28th February 2020. All successful candidates should usually expect to start in September/October 2020.

How to Apply
Apply Online:
When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:
(a) in ‘Study Option’
You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Chemistry PhD and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)
(b) in ‘Research Project Information’
You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

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