A number of composite to steel joint geometries have been developed for use in ship structures to enable, for example, incorporation of large composite superstructures onto steel hulls. In practice, these joints could be up to 100m or more in length. The ability to ascertain the condition of such joints both at build and through the vessel life is critical to the adoption of composite structures in such hybrid arrangements.
Some joint geometries are amenable to inspection by existing techniques such as thermography or ultrasonic inspection. These typically consist of composite material overlaying a steel substrate. Higher joint strengths have been achieved using geometries where the composite part is bonded into a steel channel and externally over-laminated. These geometries have proved to be incompatible with established non-destructive examination techniques.
The project seeks to identify and develop a method of validating the integrity of a composite to steel joint both at build and through life where the joint includes bond surfaces masked from conventional non-destructive examination (NDE) methods by a steel component. The method developed will be practical for use in an industrial environment including on external ship surfaces.
The project offers an opportunity to develop current state of the art non-destructive evaluation technologies to reveal hitherto hidden defects. The project will address the feasibility of applying novel infra-red/UT approaches to such geometries and establish their usefulness particularly in the construction stage. To reveal the hidden defects a novel sensor system must be developed. A system based on embedded sensors/actuators will be explored to probe deep into the structure and assess any degradation of the joint. It is essential that such a system has minimum impact on the joint integrity and a key part of the project will be to establish the failure envelop of joints with and without the integrated system.
The successful candidate for the PhD will ideally have a strong background in mechanics of composite material and be aware of techniques that are currently in used for condition monitoring and NDE on in service structures such as ships, aircraft, bridges and off-shore structure.
The PhD is sponsored by BAE Systems through an industrial case award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The PhD award is for four years starting with a standard stipend but with possibilities to enhance the stipend in following years. It is expected that the successful candidate will spend time located at BAE Systems sites (approximately 8 months over the project period) the purpose being ultimately to transfer the technology developed in the project into BAE Systems Maritime projects.
If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Professor Janice Barton, email [email protected]
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