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PhD Studentship: Resisting the Pressure: Phase-field Approach for Composites Under Hydrogen Environment

University of Warwick - Centre for Doctoral Training in the Modelling of Heterogeneous Materials (HetSys), Department of Physics

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Coventry
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: The stipend is at the standard UKRI rate.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 5th December 2022
Closes: 31st March 2023
Reference: HP2023-13

SupervisorsLukasz Figiel (WMG), Mohad Mousavi-Nezhad (Engineering) 

Summary:

When exposed to pressurized gaseous environments, composite materials can exhibit microscale damage phenomena such as micro-cavitation. Understanding of those damage phenomena in the presence of tiny gas molecules such as H2 is critical for future applications of composites for H2 storage. Here, we aim to develop a new chemo-mechanical phase field model that will predict onset and propagation of microscale damage as a function of material composition, hydrogen concentration/pressure, and loading conditions. The model will be experimentally informed (model parameters, microstructure) using a Bayesian approach. 

Background

When exposed to pressurized gaseous environments, polymer composites can exhibit microscale damage phenomena including cavitation that can subsequently lead to catastrophic component failure. This is particularly important for future hydrogen storage applications, given the need for pressurizing gaseous hydrogen to satisfy certain volumetric constraints. These microscale damage phenomena are poorly understood in the presence of tiny gas molecules such as H2. Here we will exploit the concept of polymer composites reinforced with 2D nanoparticles (NPs) as means for controlling H2 transport and improving microdamage tolerance. Experimental investigation of the above phenomena is challenging as it requires understanding of a complex relationship between nano-structural features of the composite (e.g. NP aspect ratio), H2 transport, and H2-induced damage initiation/evolution across multiple length scales. 

Aim

Here, we aim to develop a new chemo-mechanical phase field model that will enable predictions of hydrogen gas transport and microscale damage onset and propagation as a function of material composition, hydrogen concentration/pressure, and loading conditions. In turn, this will help to optimize material for a given hydrogen and loading environment. The model will be experimentally informed (e.g. microscopy, mechanical behaviour) using the Bayesian paradigm. An experimentally parametrized chemo-mechanical phase field model will be subsequently implemented within a finite-element framework to enable predictions of hydrogen-induced initiation and evolution of micro-damage processes as a function of material composition, hydrogen pressure, and temperature.

Outcome

Enhanced understanding of the interactions between pressurized gaseous hydrogen on polymer composites.

New chemo-mechanics phase-field approach to study microscale damage processes in polymer composites exposed to gaseous hydrogen environment.

A statistical inference methodology exploiting Bayesian paradigm to determine model parameters from experiments (microstructural, material model).

Experimentally-informed computational platform connecting an open-source finite element code with a Python-based statistical inference tool.

Funding Details

Awards for both UK residents and international applicants pay a stipend to cover maintenance as well as paying the university fees and a research training support. The stipend is at the standard UKRI rate. For more details visit: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/hetsys/apply/funding/

If you’re from outside the UK, the final application deadline for all courses starting in September/October is 23:59 (GMT) on 25 January 2023.

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