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Quantification and management of the uncertainties of electric freight vehicle and failure modes analysis of aluminium foam sandwich structures

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Broggi
    Dr S Schewe
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description


This is a project within the multi-disciplinary EPSRC and ESRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) on Quantification and Management of Risk & Uncertainty in Complex Systems & Environments, within the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty. The studentship is granted for 4 years and includes, in the first year, a Master in Decision Making under Risk & Uncertainty. The project includes extensive collaboration with prime industry to build an optimal basis for employability.

Citylog EMF is a new type of electric freight vehicle developed in Austria by a consortium led by HET. The electric motor propulsion is fuel-cell based, and the vehicle concept consists of a series of ‘self-driven’ vehicles and ‘trailers’ that can be coupled to a train, and un-coupled for loading and unloading operations. The trials in Klagenfurt follow the prototype phase in which the technical feasibility has been demonstrated.

The prototype manufactured for this trial is based on a steel structure. In order to manufacture a more efficient transportation system the weight of the structure must be reduced significantly. Therefore, a major challenge for HET is to develop lightweight structures that are both light and stiff.

The main challenge of this project will be the investigation of failure modes of new developed aluminium foam sandwich structures, which will replace the current steel structure. Developing innovative light-weight structures requires different joining techniques, such as laminating and bonding techniques that need to be investigated in a failure analysis.

To identify critical parameter and behaviour of the materials uncertainty propagation and sensitivity analysis will be performed by using the general purpose software tool COSSAN. HET’s long term goal is to obtain realistic predictions of failure probabilities for to replace physical tests with a numerical solution developed by the student using COSSAN. This will exploit advanced algorithms for Uncertainty
Quantification, including the following activities:

- identify, compare and contrast the critical parameters that prompt uncertainties in the sandwich structure and connections
- analyse delamination and defects in aluminium foam structure
- analysis of the failure mode of the structures
- implement advanced optimisation techniques to improve the robustness of the solutions
- Know-how exchange with HET

Additionally, an insight in the automated control system and electrical system of the vehicle will also be addressed, in order to identify the coupling between these systems and the structural performance of the automated vehicle.

This is a collaborative project between HET Hochleistungs- Eisenbahn- und Transporttechnik Entwicklungs- GmbH and Liverpool University. HET is an engineering company focused on railway technology, development of converting-systems (container-converting-systems for the combined traffic, cranes) and alternative drive- and energy storage (fuel cell). HET cooperates with European universities and research institutions with a view to the further development of its products, especially the "CityLog EMF" and the "Mobile Container Converter".

Funding Notes

The PhD Studentship (Tuition fees + stipend of £ 13,726 annually over 4 years) is available for Home/EU students. In addition, a budget for use in own responsibility will be provided.

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