PhD Studentship: Tip Modifications of Aero-Engine Compressor Blades

University of Sheffield - Department of Mechanical Engineering

This project is in collaboration with Rolls-Royce, and will carried out within the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

In aero-engine design, ensuring gas flow does not leak around the periphery of the compressor is an essential requirement for efficient performance, and low specific fuel consumption. This is achieved by ensuring clearances between the rotating blades and surrounding casing are minimised. Abradable linings are also used on the inside of the casing, to provide a soft material for the blades to incur into, should the blades come into contact with it as the engine flexes during flight.

However, even with the use of abradable linings, compressor blades are still prone to wear resulting in gas flow leakage. The aim of this studentship is to investigate the use of tip modifications (e.g. geometry changes, use of abrasive coatings, etc.) on compressor blades, with the target of demonstrating reduced tip wear and running temperature. These modifications would protect the blade, and would facilitate efficient cutting of abradable lining as required – in much the same way as a turning tool works.

Testing will be undertaken on a novel high-speed test platform for abradable linings at the University. Project work will be focused on understanding how different tip modifications impact the cutting mechanics of the system, and how it can be optimised. This studentship is closely aligned to a range of on-going Rolls-Royce development programmes leading to a close working relationship, and will involve regular meetings with Rolls-Royce stakeholders.

Candidate Profile

This studentship is available to home or EU students. You should have, or be expected to achieve, a first or upper second class UK honours degree (or equivalent) in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, or related discipline.

Further Information

The main supervisor on this project will be Prof. Matt Marshall, with additional guidance provided by the Surface Engineering group within Rolls-Royce. For further information about this studentship please email Matt Marshall (

This studentship covers the cost of tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend of £17,000 per annum, for a period of 3 years.

To apply please use our standard online PhD application form, and indicate on your form that you are replying to this advert; or email for further guidance on applying.

Closing date: 31 March 2018.

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Northern England