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Project Opportunities

Opportunities for Doctoral Studies at Bristol Composites Institute and Airbus

Type of award: Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

Department: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Research Group: Bristol Composites Institute

Scholarship Details: An enhanced stipend of £24,917 for 2024/25, a fee waiver and generous research financial support for the successful candidates.

Duration: 4 years

Eligibility: Home/EU (UK settled status) with permanent UK residency

The funding for this studentship only covers UK fees. Only apply for this studentship if you are UK fees eligible or have sufficient funds to cover the difference between the UK and the overseas fees. If you require a student visa, you may also require ATAS clearance for the aerospace sector.

Start Date: Flexible from September 2024

PhD studentship in High-Rate Manufacturing of Composite Wing Structures

Airbus has supported the Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC) in Composites Manufacture since 2018. Our first Doctoral student worked on forming technology as part of novel wing architecture in the Wing of Tomorrow programme. Three subsequent Doctoral students have studied curing, process simulation, and in-process monitoring. We are now seeking another high calibre candidate to take up a new studentship. You will be based between the University of Bristol and the Airbus composites manufacturing sites, including the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol.  The successful candidate will work on industrially focused research into novel wing manufacturing technologies, whilst following a taught programme at University of Bristol.  

We are seeking highly motivated and committed individuals with an eye on the future, who are interested in conducting stimulating and essential industrial research and have a passion for finding sustainable solutions. 

Carbon fibre composites are essential in the move to decarbonise air travel. Through lightweighting, composites can help to significantly reduce aviation emissions in the short term, and they will be the backbone of future zero emission aircraft.  Forming these advanced materials into wings quickly, economically, and without defects, is difficult. 

We are offering an PhD project that focus on manufacturing at higher rates, which poses a greater likelihood of scrapping materials or structures that do not meet quality standards. A previous Airbus supported student scrutinized semi-cured interfaces and showed that key properties can be maintained through this method. This new project will explore the potential to form semi-cured charges into complex shapes needed to reduce defects and optimise composite products so they can deliver the most effective emissions reductions. The first year will involve hands-on manufacturing of flat semi-cured charges to various degrees of cure, followed by forming. Characterisation of the cure kinetics of the selected resin will be made to design the temperature cycle. Quality assessment will be performed using state of the art instrumentation, including Laser CMM, X-ray CT and optical microscopy. The work will develop in future years to explore forming strategies and material handling for industrial use. 

Candidate Requirements 

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum a 2:1 MEng or merit at Masters level or equivalent in engineering, physics or chemistry. Applicants without a master’s qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of readiness to pursue a research degree and performance at interview.  

To apply please complete and submit this online form (Airbus project only) and send your CV and transcript of results to caroline.perkins@bristol.ac.uk.  

Closing date:  ​​20th March 2024. 

Opportunities for Doctoral Studies at Bristol Composites Institute and Rolls-Royce

Type of award PhD 

Department Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Research group BCI 

Scholarship Details An enhanced stipend of £24,917 for 2024/25, a fee waiver and generous research financial support for the successful candidates. 

Duration 4 years 

Eligibility  The funding for this studentship only covers UK fees. Only apply for this studentship if you are UK fees eligible or have sufficient funds to cover the difference between the UK and the overseas fees. If you require a student visa, you may also require an ATAS certificate for the aerospace sector.  

Start Date September 2024 is strongly preferred, but there could be some flexibility in this 

Rolls-Royce supported PhDs in Composite Materials and Manufacture 

Rolls-Royce has supported PhD students at the University of Bristol on a diverse range of composites topics for many years via the Composites University Technology Centre (UTC). See https://www.bristol.ac.uk/composites/collaboration/utc/ for further details, including case studies on past UTC PhD students. We are now recruiting for high calibre candidates to join us and take up two new studentships.  

We are seeking highly motivated and committed individuals with an eye on the future, who are interested in conducting stimulating and novel research and have a passion for finding sustainable solutions. You will work on pre-commercial, yet industrially focused, cutting-edge research, complemented by a taught programme at University of Bristol. 

Composite Hydrogen Storage Tank Process modelling

  • This project will focus on numerical modelling approach to understand and predict the manufacturing process for the production of carbon-fibre reinforce hydrogen storage tanks. 
  • Advanced finite element models will be used to simulate processes such as filament winding, compaction and cure.  
  • Manufacturing outcomes such as fibre orientations, part thickness and likelihood of wrinkling will be predicted  
  • The project outcomes will be used to inform models of a tank’s structural performance.   

Repeated low energy Impacts 

  • In service, aerospace composite components are subject to a multitude of seemingly minor impact threats every day, for example due to ice shedding or hailstones. 
  • Over a part’s lifetime, this can result in millions of such impacts that may have detrimental effects to component life.  
  • This project will take a combined experimental and numerical approach to investigate the effects of repeated low-level impacts. 
  • The project outcomes will be used to understand and generate impact fatigue allowables for composite component design, which could unlock more sustainable and efficient aircraft designs with reduced engine power requirements. 

Candidate Requirements 

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum a 2:1 MEng or merit at Masters level or equivalent in engineering, mathematics or physics. Applicants without a master’s qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of readiness to pursue a research degree and performance at interview. 

To apply please complete and submit this online form (Rolls-Royce projects only) and send your CV and transcript of results to caroline.perkins@bristol.ac.uk.  

Closing date: 14th April 2024 

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