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Monitoring the Performance of Heavy Machine Components Using Novel Sensing Systems

University of Southampton - Research Group: national Centre for Advanced Tribology (nCATS)

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Southampton
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 The funding covers UK/EU fees and stipend at the standard EPSRC rate
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th November 2018
Closes: 4th January 2019
Reference: MECHENG-NCATS-538

This project is in the area of monitoring the performance of components in heavy machines using novel sensing systems (electrostatic sensor arrays ESA) to gain insight into contact degradation and using correlative surface science as validation. This studentship would couple to existing research into oil quality sensing via online permittivity, viscosity, density and temperature measurements but also in-situ recording the chemical composition as a novelty. It would correlate outputs from the array sensors to surface degradation process by use of correlative imaging based on optical/scanning electron microscopy, Energy Dispersive X-ray spectrometry/XPS, micro/nano indentation and topography scans to capture microstructure, phases, mechanical properties, chemical and physical characteristics of the surface to inform the physics, materials science and chemistry behind the charge density maps created by the ESA of both idealised and worn surfaces. This PhD would be multi-physics and multi-sensor based. Work is envisaged at Schaeffler testing labs and their adjunct laboratories to show benefits of multi-sensor approach to understanding distress of components/lubricant under test. The PhD would feed into better load capacity determination for bearings for example.

The studentship will be part of much larger £1m EPSRC funded programme to conduct research with the following objectives:

(1) miniaturise existing electrostatic sensor Condition Monitoring, nano stress devices and chemical sensing technology

(2) produce them as arrays

(3) embed electronics, and

(4) use machine leaning to understand outputs and develop predictive tools from training data.

Student background: A good first degree in mechanical engineering, physics or related backgrounds will be considered. Tribology background and/or sensor development desirable.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Professor Robert Wood FREng, nCATS research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 4881.

Funding and Eligibility

This 3 year studentship covers UK/EU level tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend. The stipend will be a minimum of £14,777 (pro-rated) for 2018/19 and may be enhanced for an excellent candidate.

How to Apply

Click here to apply and select the programme - PhD in Engineering and the Environment. Please enter the title of the PhD Studentship in the application form.

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