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PhD Studentship: Design & Fabrication of Ice-Phobic & Ice-Shedding Surfaces using Digital Manufacturing

University of East Anglia - School of Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,609 pa stipend, tuition fees (Home only) and research costs
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 14th September 2021
Closes: 14th November 2021
Reference: ASKOUNISA_U21SCIPVC

Start date: June 2022

Closing date: 14th Nov

No. of positions available: 1 

Supervisor: Dr Alexandros Askounis

Project description: 

Ice accretion is detrimental to a number of areas from airplanes to wind turbines and power cables. Currently, methods to remove ice are either energy-intensive or time consuming leading for example to huge delays in airplane traffic during heavy winter conditions. Hence, there is currently a large demand for surfaces capable of delaying ice formation and passively shedding it [1, 2].

A key consideration here is to control surface wettability and in particular make a surface water-repellent. Essentially, wettability is a measure of how much liquids spread on a surface; with those surfaces forming a contact angle with water higher than 150o called superhydrophobic. Repellency arises from low contact angle hysteresis (the difference between the receding and advancing contact angles). A number of such surfaces have been developed over the last few years, which combine surface roughness with a low surface energy polymeric layer [3]. Despite the huge scientific interest on these surfaces over the last two decades, the challenge to shed ice remains and further work in that direction is required [4].

This project consists of two parts: We will use our state-of-the-art digital manufacturing capabilities to design a number of superhydrophobic surfaces with varying combinations of geometries and sizes. Each design with then be fabricated using different types of materials, from copper and aluminium to polymers and their wetting properties will be evaluated to identify the optimal design and printing medium. The optimal surfaces will then be exposed to icing conditions in order to determine their performance in delaying freezing and ice-shedding.

Applicants should have a first or upper second-class Honours degree in Engineering, Materials, Chemistry or relevant subject with some experience in surface science techniques. Basic knowledge of CAD/CAM, thermodynamics and phase change process is desirable. Informal enquiries are encouraged and addressed to Dr. Alex Askounis (a.askounis@uea.ac.uk).

Funding notes:   

This PhD project is in a competition for a 3 year UEA funded studentship covering stipend (£15,609 pa), tuition fees (Home only) and research costs.  International applicants (EU/non-EU) are eligible for UEA funded studentships but they are required to fund the difference between Home and International tuition fees (which for 2021-22 are detailed on the University’s fees pages at https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/university-information/finance-and-procurement/finance-information-for-students/tuition-fees)

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