Predicting failure of composite airframe structures is very challenging, and current design practice still relies heavily on tests. In future there is a strong desire to reduce design cycle time by replacing tests with advanced numerical analysis. Significant research advances have been made in recent years, especially in modelling interlaminar failure in composites and disbonding in adhesive joints with cohesive interface finite elements. This project seeks to investigate a range of challenging cases for the numerical models to predict failure. It will apply and validate these techniques on representative structural elements and identify areas requiring further development. Additional research challenges to be addressed include predicting the effect of variable thickness bondlines under mixed mode loading, and of different temperature and environmental conditions. This project is supported by BAE Systems.
Applicants must be UK residents, holding a minimum of an upper-second class degree (or equivalent qualification) in Science, Mathematics or Engineering with a strong interest in composites, and be available to start in March 2016. Successful applicants will be offered funding covering tuition fees and living costs at the EPSRC rate for three years (for the academic year 2015-16 the stipend is £14,057). They will also be entitled to an industrial top up fund of £3,500 per annum. Eligibility criteria for funding can be found on the EPSRC website. Applicants should refer to the postgraduate programme finder for Aerospace Engineering PhD programme details and information on how to apply.
For further information please contact Professor Michael Wisnom.
Geodesic space frame structures provide an alternative philosophy for design of weight optimised and highly loaded structures. Bespoke geodesic configurations in combination with the tailored properties of fibre composites can lead to highly efficient and damage tolerant solutions.
A fundamental research study will be performed to develop the underpinning composite or hybrid technologies to enable the design, analysis and manufacture of such lightweight structures, capable of efficiently accommodating dynamic load cases for applications of interest to BAE Systems. One of the key challenges is associated with the “node” points where complex load transfers occur. It is likely that 3D reinforcement architecture will be considered for the nodes. The study aims to address the following aspects:
Applicants must be UK residents, holding a minimum of an upper-second class degree (or equivalent qualification) in Science, Mathematics or Engineering with a strong interest in composites, and be available to start as soon as possible. Successful applicants will be offered funding covering tuition fees and living costs at the EPSRC rate for three years (for the academic year 2015-2016 the stipend is £14,057). They will also be entitled to an industrial top up fund of £3,500 per annum. Eligibility criteria for funding can be found on the EPSRC website. Applicants should refer to the postgraduate programme finder for Aerospace Engineering PhD programme details and information on how to apply.
For further information please contact Professor Michael Wisnom.
The HiPerDuCT programme aims to create a new generation of high performance composites that overcome the key limitation of conventional composites: their inherent lack of ductility. The ability to yield and recover, be notch insensitive, exhibit much greater work of fracture, and fail in a benign manner will offer a step change in damage tolerance, vastly increasing the scope of application and enabling new processing techniques.
PhD studentships are now available which offer potential applicants an exciting opportunity to contribute towards the key research objectives of HiPerDuCT:
Fuel efficiency and environmental issues are becoming key priorities in aviation as well as in other types of transportation. Cheaper and “greener” vehicles can be designed and produced applying lighter and stronger materials than the ones currently in operation. Lightweight high performance (mainly carbon fibre reinforced epoxy) composites can meet the demand for high stiffness and strength, but have an inherent lack of ductility, which renders them unsuitable for many applications in which loading conditions are unpredictable, but catastrophic failure cannot be tolerated. A greater degree of damage tolerance and higher failure strains could allow the spread of composites extensively, not only in aerospace applications, but also in other transportation industries, where fuel saving and low maintenance are of high priority. In civil engineering and the construction industry, tougher, more damage tolerant composite systems would also be beneficial, because of the harsh environments these materials have to cope with.
(1) High performance multi-directional ductile laminates made of thin-ply hybrid constituents
One way of creating ductile composites, is the introduction of novel architectures to laminated composites. Hybridising the composites, either on the tow (intermingled hybrids) or on the ply level (sandwich hybrids), with fibre types having different elastic properties and strains to failure, is one way of achieving pseudo-ductility. A very important benefit of sandwich-hybrids is that the damage process is controllable through precise laminate design.
In the last 12 months, successful research has been carried out on unidirectional (UD) hybrid laminates containing various thin carbon reinforcements. Stable, pseudo-ductile failure (multiple fracture and stable pull out of the thin carbon plies, see the plateau on the graph) has been demonstrated for a dry spread tow-type carbon tape, and for a thin carbon prepreg system in glass-carbon-glass sandwich type laminates. The promising results and the wide scope of interesting further research tasks enabled us to expand the topic to the level of a full PhD programme. There is a strong interest from the industrial partners and within the core academic team of the HiPerDuCT programme, especially, to investigate the scalability, multidirectional laminate performance and structural level performance of this new material architecture.
The key challenge of this PhD project is to investigate and exploit the pseudo–ductility, previously demonstrated in UD thin-ply hybrid plates, on a higher structural level of multidirectional, e.g. quasi-isotropic (QI), laminates under a range of loading conditions suitable for engineering applications. This will be of significant interest in applications, where currently available composite materials cannot be used because of their inherent brittle character. Some of the possible areas for implementation are the transportation and construction industries, but ductile architectures would widen the scope of composites in traditional fields such as aerospace, motor racing and recreational equipment (bicycle frames and parts, tennis racquets, skis, hockey sticks, yachts etc.) as well.
During this PhD programme the main tasks are to develop and optimize the structure of a scalable and tailorable hybrid laminate system:
(2) Bio-inspired high performance ductile composites with highly-aligned discontinuous fibres
The intention of this project is to investigate bio-inspired composite materials with aligned short fibres to bring ductility to the composites by:
In order to obtain ductility or pseudo-ductility of composites, we have recently demonstrated a new method-HiPerDiF (High Performance-Discontinuous Fibre) method - which employs a unique fibre orientation mechanism using momentum change of a fibre suspension (see Figure 1.). This method allows a high level of fibre alignment in composites even though the suspension is a low-viscosity fluid such as water. It was previously noted that tensile stiffness, strength and failure strain of aligned discontinuous fibre composites were similar to those of continuous fibre composites, provided the fibres are accurately aligned and their length is sufficiently long compared to the critical fibre length. Also, there is the potential to show that aligned discontinuous fibre composites with shorter length than the critical fibre length display ductile properties as predicted in modelling work. This new technology allows a range further interesting studies. It can be used in composite recycling as one of industrial approaches but can also be a key technology to investigate new ductile composite materials. In this PhD project, a specific subject focusing on 'Bio-inspired high performance ductile composites with highly-aligned discontinuous fibres' will be investigated.
In many modelling works, highly-aligned discontinuous fibre composites with shorter length than a critical fibre length show ductility by means of the fibre pull out mechanism. Furthermore, we are going to modify the fibre end shape to mimic the waviness or dovetail geometry of nacre which is a key feature with the potential to lead to significant inelastic deformation. In well-aligned short fibre composites with dumb-bell or dovetail shape fibres, fibre pull out should occur accompanied by progressive locking and hardening in tension, so that we may expect more ductility with a reasonable modulus and strength. In many references, it is clear to see that the fibre end shape can be changed like a cotton bud when a carbon fibre is cut by a laser. Additionally, there are potential approaches to develop manufacturing methods for short fibres with tiny bumps on their surfaces, for instance, Pt-based alloy nanoparticles can be synthesized on CNTs by flash light irradiation. We can also design composites by hybridisation using two or more different modified short fibres (fibre geometries as well as fibre materials). Therefore it can be seen that this is a very flexible, promising and novel approach to develop new ductile composite materials.
Applicants should hold at least an upper-second class degree (or equivalent qualification) in engineering, mathematics, physics or materials with a strong interest in composites.
Successful applicants will be offered covering living expenses and tuition fees at the EU rate for three years. Full eligibility details can be found here
Please make an online application for this project at http://www.bris.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply. Please select 'Aerospace Engineering' on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.
For further information please contact Professor Michael Wisnom
The Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science (ACCIS CDT) provides innovative postgraduate training for students wishing to pursue a PhD in the field of advanced composites. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the CDT brings together scientists and engineers and benefits from strong industrial links. The programme offered by the CDT spans four years, including an integrated taught component during the first year.
See our dedicated ACCIS CDT webpages for programme details and information on how to apply.
The Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC) in Composites Manufacture aims to provide the UK composites manufacturing industry with Research Engineers equipped with the necessary advanced technical and leadership skills required for effective adoption of new knowledge and technologies in composites manufacture. The relevant industry areas include aerospace, automotive, marine, wind energy and construction.
Students registered to the four-year postgraduate research programme spend 75% of their time at their company carrying out an industrially focused research project. The remaining 25% of their time is allocated to completing a taught component, which aims to provide EngD students (Research Engineers) with the necessary specialist knowledge and skills. The taught component is made up of the following units which are taken during the first two to three years of the programme and which are delivered at the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol:
The IDC is firmly embedded within the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites, and is a collaborative programme run by the University of Bristol, Cranfield University, the University of Manchester and the University of Nottingham.
The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp) aims to underpin the development of next-generation composites manufacturing processes based on low cost, short cycle times, efficiency and sustainability. Composites have been identified internationally as a critical enabling technology in developing a low energy economy, directly through light weighting in transport applications and indirectly through their use in renewable energy machinery for wind and tidal power. The 'UK Composites Strategy' produced by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (Nov 2009), recognises the importance of "shaping the technical and economic conditions necessary to develop rapid manufacturing of composites" and hence "increase and develop the use of advanced composites across other sectors".
Projects within the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites will aim to underpin the development of next-generation composites manufacturing processes based on low cost, short cycle times, efficiency and sustainability. Research topics include novel approaches to manufacture of complex geometries; structural joints using embedded inserts and bonded fittings and multi-scale modelling to predict defect formation during infusion.
PhD studentships are available within the EPSRC Centre to applicants holding or expecting to obtain a 1st class or upper 2nd class honours degree in Engineering, Mathematics, Physics or Materials, with evidence of a strong interest in composites.
The studentships are offered with funding covering living expenses and tuition fees at the EU rate for 3 years.
Applicants should follow the application process for postgraduate study detailed at the postgraduate programme finder.
Contact: Email Prof. Kevin Potter
The MSc in Advanced Composites (PDF, 463kB) offers a world class education in which you will acquire an in-depth theoretical understanding and practical/industrial knowledge of advanced composite materials. Students will be based in the Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science (ACCIS) in our new £5.8M world class laboratory for composite materials manufacture and testing.
After completion of the taught courses, students will be required to undertake a research project work which can have an industrial or ‘blue sky’ focus.
The MSc program is aimed at attracting top students and professionals with undergraduate degrees in engineering or closely related fields. International applicants will need to achieve IELTS overall score 6.5 or higher to prove their English language proficiency.
You can apply online via the postgraduate programme finder.
The University offers advice and information on fees and funding via their postgraduate study webpages.
Next Intake: September 2015.
The National Composites Centre (NCC), is an organisation owned by the University of Bristol and based at the Bristol and Bath Science Park. The NCC brings together dynamic companies and enterprising academics to develop new technologies for the design and rapid manufacture of world class high-quality composite products using cutting-edge machinery. NCC job opportunities are advertised throughout the year on their website. The NCC have also launched a Graduate Scheme offering graduates a unique opportunity to work on projects supported by world leading organisations at the cutting edge of composites development. Find out more >>
If you are interested in applying for an internship within ACCIS, we require the following information from you:
Selection is highly competitive, so please only apply if you have a genuine interest in a specific area of ACCIS research and can demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills to achieve valuable research outcomes during the course of your internship. Available funding for internships is limited so we can only offer a small number of such placements. Applicants able to provide full or partial funding from alternative sources are encouraged.
Application documentation as listed above should be submitted by email:
Ad hoc positions are often available for experimental and modelling research on aerospace composites in collaboration with companies including Airbus, Westland, GE Aviation, Vestas and Rolls-Royce. We are keen to hear from exceptional candidates with proposed research topics when specific projects are not listed on this webpage. All proposed projects should be sent to us by email with an accompanying CV.
Studentships may be available to suitably qualified UK and in some cases EU citizens. Bursaries may be considerably enhanced by industrial topups depending on the project, and candidates qualifications and experience. In all cases a good honours degree in Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Materials, Mathematics or a related discipline is required. Post-Doctoral Research Assistantships are also available for candidates with relevant experience.
Information on postgraduate fees and funding.
Opportunities across the University can be found on the central University of Bristol Vacancies page.
University of Bristol,
Bristol, BS8 1TH, UK
Tel: +44 (0)117 928 9000