Student Opportunities

This page lists current projects that Swansea University students can apply for that are run within the ISM.


3rd Year Engineering Projects

Students in their 3rd year of engineering at Swansea University conduct a research project from October through to April worth 30 credit points.  Each year the ISM offers a number of projects that link to our bigger research areas.  Below are our currently available projects.

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Summer Projects

Over the summer Swansea University welcomes students from South American universities to come and study in the UK.  The projects on offer below are run from May through to August.

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DTA Projects

Remnant Life Assessment based on the Small Punch Test and the Wilshire Equations
Prof Mark Evans
The Wilshire equations have been widely applied to uniaxial creep test data on a wide range of steel alloys used in power generation and on some Titanium alloys used in aero engines. In all these studies, it has been possible to obtain accurate long-term life predictions from very short-term accelerated uniaxial tests. This suggests that these equations adequately capture the main creep deformation processes.
However, such uniaxial testing cannot be done on components already in use without causing a deterioration in the structural integrity of that part. The small punch test, that uses thin slices of material cut from in use parts, has been put forward as a means of determining remanent life. Numerical models on ½Cr½Mo¼V steel have also demonstrated that this test is sensitive to pre-existing damage and so offers the potential to accurately determine this remanent life. Such information is currently invaluable as many power plants within the UK are approaching their original design lives, and the growing potential energy gap within the UK is creating pressure to extend the use of these aging plants.
To date, the Wilshire equations have not been applied to small punch test data. The aims of this research proposal are twofold:
1. To apply the Wilshire equations to existing small punch data sets on various steel alloys to assess whether they can be used to a. accurately predict failure times under normal operating conditions and b. predict remanent life using tests carried out from specimens that have pre-existing damage.
2. Standardization of the small punch test is a current area of research interest. This stems from the fact that results from the small punch test are not just dependent upon the usual test conditions of load and temperature, but unfortunately also on specimen and test rig geometries. What is required is a means of identifying what settings for these geometries results in the least change in test results (when these geometries are changed slightly from such settings), whilst at the same time maximizing the sensitivity of the test to pre-existing damage (so that remanent life assessment can be made). Given the ability of the Wilshire equations to accurately model creep processes, this proposed project will identify such specimen and test geometries within the framework of the Wilshire equations. This will require advancing the Wilshire methodology to properly account for the large variation present in small punch test results. Such results will provide a useful comparison to those already obtained through numerical modelling and should form an invaluable source of information into the standardization process.


EngD Projects

Check out the following projects, these are some of our EngD projects starting in October 2016.  If you like these, get in touch and we can see if you are the type of person we are looking for.

High cycle fatigue effects of surface defects in aerospace alloys
Dr Mark Whittaker
Various manufacturing surface anomalies are seen across a wide range of metallic components that the materials function are asked to sentence but do not have any data with which to provide estimates of the associated fatigue strength reductions. For vibration sensitive components especially this creates problems because in high cycle fatigue failure can occur very quickly if fatigue cracks propagate from these features. The standard approach when dealing with an anomalous surface condition is to assume it forms a crack slightly bigger than the feature and use fracture mechanics to predict if the crack will propagate. On features smaller than ~125 microns this approach doesn’t work and there is a requirement to find a better way of predicting the effect on high cycle fatigue for small surface cracks in Titanium, Nickel and Steels.

The Microstructural and Mechanical Understanding of Flowformed F1E
Prof Martin Bache
Flow/shear forming capability at the AFRC at Strathclyde has been assessed in a previous EngD project supervised at Swansea UTC (Mr Costa Coleman 2012-2016). During that project, processing parameters were optimised for the production of shaft/struct/cone components in SCMV and IN718 alloys. The influence of the forming process on microstructural and textural evolution was studied and then related to the mechanical properties. Crucial to future investigations, novel techniques and specimen designs were developed to enable tensile, fatigue, fatigue crack growth and creep assessments.
The expertise developed at Swansea will now be applied to the advanced steel F1E in flow/shear formed variants. The suitability of the alloy for such processing and any subsequent refinement of microstructure will be defined through forming trials at AFRC. Swansea will then characterise the resulting modified microstructures and carry out mechanical testing of conventional F1E vs flow formed F1E utilising the techniques optimised form the previous work. In addition to the work previously carried out a look at small test piece design will be investigated to see if anisotropy or any directionality could be characterised in a meaningful way. It is thought that the refinement of the current F1E microstructure will modify the mechanical properties.

Small Scale Testing of High γ’ Nickel Based Superalloys Manufactured by ALM
Dr Robert Lancaster
Using the microstructural assessment methodology and expertise already developed in studies of Laser Additive Manufactured, Electron Beam Melted and Blown-powder technologies, a microstructural and mechanical assessment and understanding of laser powder bed deposits (DLD) is required. The combined understanding will support the ongoing efforts within Rolls-Royce to develop laser deposition of high gamma prime containing nickel based superalloys.
Utilising the microstructural and mechanical property assessment methodologies and expertise already developed in previous studies of electron beam melted and blown-powder technologies, a detailed understanding is now required for the next generation of ALM built nickel based superalloys consisting of a high γ’ content. The metallurgical and mechanical behaviour understanding will support a key development strategy that is being developed globally by Rolls-Royce and for all gas turbine engines. As part of the research project, the student shall baseline results with CM247 build composition using current best practice build parameters, HIP’ing and heat treatments and propose changes to the deposition parameters or post HIP treatments. The mechanical response will be characterised by small scale test methods and this knowledge shall then provide the foundation for further development of future ALM built materials and components.

Alternative Joining Techniques for Ti alloys Powder Interlayer Bonding
Dr Helen Davies
Previous research at Swansea University, has demonstrated the feasibility of a novel ‘powder interlayer bonding’ technology for joining a range of titanium-based alloys. However, historically the scale-up of the system from laboratory level to industrial application has been critical. The joining is currently performed exploiting a commercial thermo-mechanical simulator (Gleeble 1500, DSI) with limited adaptability. Indeed, this piece of kit is characterised by a small operative chamber, limited power and force applicable, making difficult to move from small/simplified coupons to representative dimensions/geometry tests. In addition the device is not particularly reliable and has been subject to long shutdowns in last few years. The focus of the research is intended to explore alternative methods in order to achieve a high integrity novel powder interlayer bond.

The effect of salt composition and other species on the static and cyclic corrosion performance of a Ni-based superalloy
Dr Karen Perkins
Previous corrosion studies have provided an good understanding of the complex mechanisms involved in this area of environmental degradation of Ni-based alloys. An emergent area of foremost interest is the effect of engine-representative salt compositions on the static and cyclic corrosion performance of Ni-based alloys. Some recent work has suggested that corrosion can be invoked at temperatures outside the typically-tested range by adjusting salt composition and application method. Further work is required to investigate the envelope of testing conditions (temperature, salt composition, introduction of other species, influence of cyclic stress) representative of engine components.

Quantifying Deformation in High Temperature Materials Using Digital Image Correlation
Dr Soran Birosca
Strain accumulation from either monotonic or cyclic loading can be heterogeneous in aerospace materials and be localised in specific microstructural features. This is particularly evident in coarse grain microstructures. The ability to characterise this strain localisation and monitor it during material and component testing is necessary for understanding the micro-mechanics of damage nucleation, accumulation and propagation.
Digital Image Correlation is an optical method that employs tracking and image registration techniques for accurate 2D and 3D measurements of displacement, strain and deformation. Advances in computer technology and digital cameras have enabled the technology to progress, particularly for micro- and nano-scale mechanical testing at room temperature, due to its relative ease of implementation and use. Implementing the technique for larger laboratory test piece and component testing at elevated temperature is more challenging. The benefits of DIC increase significantly if the technique is used in combination with electron backscattered diffraction to understand grain misorientation and texture.

Using Atom Probe Tomography and Small Angle NEutron Scattering to study preciptiation in a novel maraging steel
Dr Karen Perkins
Using the micIn many steels, during an ageing heat-treatment there is precipitation of small intermetallic phases. These precipitates have a large effect on the alloy’s properties. For example, in the steel intended for study, the mechanical properties can change dramatically depending on the heat-treatment deployed. The ability to characterise nanoscale changes in the microstructure during heat-treatments and in-service conditions, and then correlating this to changes in mechanical properties, is critical to the further development of better alloys and to mitigate against performance losses. The knowledge gained will enable the optimisation heat-treatments and alloy chemistry tailored for specific material applications.
Precipitation kinetics in these types of steels and the way they contribute to mechanical properties are not well understood. A significant reason for this is the difficulty in characterising them, since information is required on multiple length scales requiring a range of techniques.  The proposed characterisation will build on previous success using Atom Probe Tomography at Oxford University and high energy diffraction experiments at large-scale research facilities. We have obtained beam-time for two experiments, both on precipitation, at ID22, ESRF, Grenoble and on SANS-2D, STFC, Oxfordshire. The student in this project will be trained as an expert user across a range of characterisation techniques. They will prepare specimens, conduct experiments and analyse the results. In addition, they will utilise other characterisation techniques (e.g. SEM, TEM) at the two partner Universities. The research will also involve mechanical testing to directly link changes in precipitation with mechanical properties and then with models that we are currently developing.