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PhD Studentship: Innovative Manufacturing of Refractory Metals

University of Bath - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009 maintenance stipend, UK/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £2,000 per annum for up to 3.5 years
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 7th June 2019
Closes: 23rd August 2019

Lead Supervisor:  Dr Alborz Shokrani

Project enquiries:


The global demand for electricity is increasing at 3.1% and the need for a clean and sustainable source of energy is paramount. Fusion energy research seeks to generate clean, safe, and abundant electricity and this PhD studentship is a lifetime opportunity to have an impact on realisation of fusion power plants.

The realisation of a fusion reactor requires components manufactured from materials not regularly used in other sectors. A key challenge for realising a fusion power plant is the design and manufacture of Plasma Facing Components (PFCs), which face extreme environmental conditions and must fulfil numerous requirements. In particular, PFCs must be able to withstand high heat loads, maintain their structural integrity, offer resistance to neutron irradiation and provide minimal impurities to the fusion plasma. Candidate materials for PCF are refractory metals such as tungsten.

Manufacturing components with complex geometries is crucial for scaling fusion power plants and optimising their design. Tungsten and other refractory metals are considered difficult-to-machine materials due to their mechanical properties. In machining operations, short tool life, poor surface integrity and low productivity often leads to extremely high manufacturing costs preventing commercially viable part production.

An exciting opportunity has arisen at the University of Bath in collaboration with the Joining and Advanced Manufacturing Technology Laboratory at the UK Atomic Energy Agency (UKAEA) to investigate the machining of refractory metals used in fusion reactors. The project aims to understand the machining characteristics of these materials and generate new and innovative solutions for manufacturing parts from refractory metals such as tungsten. This includes computational modelling, cutting tool design, new cooling and lubrication systems, sensors network and Industry 4.0 control system, etc.

The project has a good balance between analytical and experimental research and has a full support of the partners. You will benefit from training opportunities, access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment at the University of Bath and the UKAEA and frequent interactions with other industrial partners as well as collaborations with other major academic institutions.

You will have an opportunity to participate in the teaching and research activities at the University as research/teaching assistant and attending and presenting at international conferences.


The successful candidate will have a MEng or Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing, Physics, Mathematics or other related disciplines. English language requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding.

Due to the funding restrictions, this position is only available for UK/ EU candidates.


Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Funding is for up to three and a half years. It includes UK/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £2,000 per annum and a Maintenance stipend of £15,009 per annum (2019/0 rate). EU students are eligible to apply if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the funding commencing.

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019 but applications for 20 January 2020 will be considered

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