Development of lightweight high performance sustainable composites for transport applications
PhDs and postgraduate research
Self-funded PhD students only
School of Mechanical and Design Engineering
October and February
Applications accepted all year round
The work on this project could involve:
- Fabrication of woven and non-woven composite laminates and their hybrids;
- Experimental investigation of the influence of morphological structure and process parameters on the fracture toughness (mode I and II) and falling weight impact damage and failure modes;
- Understanding the mechanics of hybrid system, delamination and interfacial characteristics;
- Characterisation interface, evolution of damage and damage modes using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-ray Computed Micro-Tomography (µCT).
The ever-increasing demand for lower CO 2 emission has driven intensive research into sustainable lightweight materials in transport sector (automotive, marine, aerospace and aerospace). Natural fibres such as flax and hemp are stiff and lighter reinforcements (density 1.5 g/cm 3 ) compared to glass fibres (density 2.54 g/cm 3 ), having a better strength to weight ratio to glass fibres. This advantageous specific property favours the use of these lightweight reinforcements to manufacture sustainable composites suitable for transport sector.
Natural fibre reinforced composites with high strength and stiffness together possessing an acceptable fracture toughness and impact damage characteristics closer to conventional glass fibre composites are of great importance in terms of developing lightweight and environmentally sustainable composite materials for structural applications. In recent years, hybrid approach has been recommended as a viable means to enhance the overall mechanical and long term durability of natural fibre composites. However, understanding hybrid compatibility (interfacial layer characteristics), failure behaviours, structure property relationships and dealing with their natural variability are most challenging issues for the use of natural fibre reinforced composites and biocomposites in transport sector. Moreover, their inferior mechanical properties in comparison to their conventional counterparts has limited the use of these composites mainly in non-structural and semi-structural applications.
The proposed PhD focuses on the development of lightweight hybrid composites with performance close to the conventional glass fibre composites by investigating optimal fibre geometry and suitable manufacturing techniques and parameters. An in-depth understanding of morphological structure of natural fibre reinforcements and the structure property relationships and influence of manufacturing parameters on the fracture toughness (mode I and II) and impact damage characteristics will be further investigated by comparing experimental and numerical modelling.
The proposal aligns with the future and emerging technologies and sustainability and environment thematic research areas of the University of Portsmouth.
Fees and funding
Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).
2020/2021 fees (applicable for October 2020 and February 2021 start)
Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a*
International full-time students: £16,400 p/a*
International part-time students: £8,200 p/a*
*All fees are subject to annual increase
You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
- A good basis in computer programming is essential for the post.
- Some experience with code development (e.g. Matlab) and CFD modelling are desirable.
- Background in mechanical engineering and metallurgy is desirable.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills with ability to prepare presentations, reports and journal papers to the highest levels of quality.
How to apply
We’d encourage you to contact Prof. Hom Dhakal (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.
When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.
If you want to be considered for this PhD opportunity you must quote project code SMDE5390220 when applying.