Powder epoxy tapeline for innovative advanced composite manufacturing solutions in the renewable sector

Recent worldwide climate disasters directly imputable to global warming highlighted the need for quick and drastic decarbonisation measures. The composite industry is at the forefront of this new challenge. There is a real need for new, cost effective materials to enable the exploitation of renewable energy sources (tidal energy, offshore floating wind, wave energy) to decarbonise the world and mitigate climate change.
 
In this context, a towpregging tapeline has been developed in the last 5 years within a major EU project (MARINCOMP), then further developed/automated in an on-going Fellowship linked with the CIMComp Hub (see photo). The tapeline is tailored for a novel powder epoxy system, which has major advantages compared to its liquid competitors: low minimal viscosity, low exotherm, ability to preshape different parts and co-cure them in a one-shot process, and stability at ambient temperature (no refrigeration requirement). These advantages result in lower manufacturing costs and quicker production of mechanically superior composite parts compared to standard liquid epoxy based composites.  
 
Prepreg tape has a strategical importance in the advanced composite manufacturing supply chain and can be used by many manufacturing processes: Automated Fibre Placement, Filament Winding, Braiding & Additive Manufacturing/3D printing. These emerging techniques are all pushing towards more automation/robotic solutions within the frame of the 4.0 industrial revolution. The powder epoxy prepreg assets will enable us to develop/adapt new competitive manufacturing solutions for these processes.
 
The student will have extensive contacts with both academia and industry. He/She will have the opportunity to identify the renewable market needs (tidal and hydrogen) with major UK and European players in advanced composite manufacturing, from industry (ie. Coriolis Composites) or UK National Composite Manufacturing Centres (NCC, AMRC, LMC).
 
PhD aims & objectives:
-    Further develop tapeline automation and robustness to meet industrial standards.
-    Produce high quality powder epoxy prepreg tape and characterize powder prepreg based composite.
-    Link with Industry/National Composite Manufacturing Centres (NCC, AMRC, LMC) to identify the renewables market requirements (Hydrogen tanks, tidal turbine blades).
-    Develop an innovative advanced manufacturing solution (filament winding, braiding, additive manufacturing, AFP) for powder prepreg based composites applications for the renewable market.  
 
Expectations:
 We are expecting the student to assist with the hardware specifications (sensor inputs/ control outputs), as well as centralising the data into a built-in LabVIEW user interface.
 
The student should be prolific on LabVIEW software and have an extensive knowledge of instrumentation and data logging systems (i.e. National Instrument).
 
Knowledge in composites properties in general and advanced manufacturing techniques in particular would be appreciated.

 

Further Information: 

Closing Date: 

Thursday, July 1, 2021
Automated Tapeline Capabilities
Automated Tapeline Capabilities

Principal Supervisor: 

Dr Colin Robert

Eligibility: 

Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

Funding: 

•    Applicants with Home tuition fee status:  A stipend and Home tuition fees are available for the successful candidate.  Please see here for a definition of Home students.
•    Applicants with EU Fee status: If an EU applicant is successful and starts BEFORE 1st August 2021, they will be eligible for Home tuition fees and stipend (see above).  If an EU applicant is successful and starts AFTER 1st August 2021, they will be eligible for the stipend but an Overseas fee status will apply (see below).
•    Applicants with Overseas fee status: Overseas applicants are welcome to apply and will be eligible for the Home tuition fee and stipend, but the top up in fees from Home rate to Overseas rate must be secured by the candidate (either through self-funded means or through external scholarship).

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: