PhD scholarship in Damage Tolerance of Sandwich Structures in Naval Vessels Operating in Arctic Regions

Technical University of Denmark - DTU Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering, Section of Solid Mechanics at the Technical University of Denmark seeks a candidate in the Lightweight Structures group for a 3-year PhD position within “Damage Tolerance of Sandwich Structures in Naval Vessels Operating in Arctic Regions”. The position is offered in cooperation with the Office of Naval Research, US Navy. 

Arctic operations are becoming increasingly important for naval vessels due to the general global warming, and the need to regularly patrol in regions where brash sea ice increases the risk of impact events with ice objects. Damage tolerance and assessment of Navy vessels operating in such regions are therefore important, and the characterization and assessment of low temperature debond damage growth in composite sandwich structures are consequently critical for operational capability of the vessel and the Navy. 

The overarching aim of the proposal is to obtain fundamental knowledge of debond damage nucleation and fatigue propagation in naval sandwich structures operating in low temperature arctic conditions and therefore exposed to a combination of environmental and highly dynamic loading rates associated with 

both impact events (ice, slamming, blast etc.) and in-service wave induced fatigue loading. Secondly, based on the fundamental understanding of the governing mechanisms, analysis and test methods are to be developed in a structural assessment and damage tolerance scheme, based on multi-mode debond fracture characteristics and properties of sandwich composites, exposed to low temperatures as well as elevated loading rates. The science underpinning this aim is the fracture mechanics of a bi-material interface and the associated testing methods and technology developed in earlier and on-going projects in the Lightweight Structures Group at the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 

The position is part of a larger research project funded by the US Navy with focus on damage tolerance and assessment of sandwich structures in naval vessels operating in arctic regions. 

Responsibilities and tasks 

  • A new face/core fracture characterization fixture must be developed for mode-III loading combined with low temperature climatic conditions.
  • Loading rates and impact energies must be identified for typical ice impact and slamming events encountered for in-service Naval surface vessels built partly or entirely in sandwich composites.
  • Nucleation of debond damages due to dynamic ice impact loading events must be studied experimentally using a drop-tower test facility at DTU.
  • Damage tolerance model validations through testing at low temperatures of sandwich panels containing realistic debond damages under a range of dynamic and fatigue loading scenarios must be performed and evaluated.
  • Participation in the development of a damage assessment scheme for naval vessels operating in arctic conditions. 

To apply, please read the full job advertisement at

Application deadline: 1 January 2017 

DTU Mechanical Engineering covers the fundamental engineering disciplines within Solid mechanics, Fluid mechanics, Coastal and Maritime Engineering, Energy systems and energy conversion, Materials and Surface Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Engineering design and Product development. The department has a scientific staff of about 135 persons, 100 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 85 persons. 

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and public service. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 10,600 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.

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