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Fully Funded EPSRC and Wave Energy Scotland PhD Scholarship: Fatigue-resistant Elastomers With Integrated Electrodes for Modular Self-sensing DEGs and DFGs

Swansea University - Mechanical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Swansea
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £18,622 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 8th December 2023
Closes: 26th January 2024

Funding providers: EPSRC DTP and Wave Energy Scotland

Subject areas: Materials Science/Engineering, Polymer Science/Chemistry, Experimental Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering 

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)

Project description: 

Project Abstract: A Wave Energy Converter (WEC) harvests clean and green energy from ocean waves. Traditionally, they use multiple rigid bodies, but there is significant cost potential from use of flexible membranes (mWEC) as the main interaction with the waves. Survivability and reliability of these highly deformable membrane structures is a key concern. An mWEC operating underwater experiences multiple modes of deformations (tension, compression, bending/twisting; in- and out-of-plane deformations) during its service life. Direct Generation (DG) WEC are paradigm shift in the wave energy sector. The project aims to develop fatigue-resistant novel self-sensing elastomers with integrated compliant electrodes that will be used for modular metamaterial-based DGs. Dielectric Elastomers (DE) and compliant electrodes are essential ingredients in DGs while the similar elastomers and flexible electrodes are required for confining Dielectric Fluids in the DG-based fluid generators. Flexible elastomers and electrodes in DGs experience millions of wave cycles during their service life which deteriorate their performances and the adhesions between electrodes and DEs over time/wave cycles. Moreover, DE materials must have high dielectric constants resulting in higher energy scavenging and self-sensing capabilities for structural health-monitoring. However, the existing DEs have low dielectric permittivity and limited fatigue life while electrodes have lack of adhesion with the base materials. Here, 2D conductive fillers will be used in achieving superior dielectric materials with extremely high dielectric permittivity. Furthermore, fatigue-resistant elastomers will be created by the combination of soft elastomers as the matrix and hard elastomers as the tougheners. All the novel materials developed here will be followed by rigorous experimental characterizations using multi-axial test rigs recently built for the Wave Energy applications at our lab. 

Project aim: Building upon unique and unparallel experimental lab in Europe on soft and flexible materials, this PhD project sets out an ambitious research plan which will investigate, with the help of cutting-edge experimental facilities, two fundamental aspects: (1) synthesis of fatigue-resistant self-healing flexible rubber-like materials, for high energy harvesting from wave motions by exploring rigorous experimental studies, and (2) to test their fatigue life improvements under electro-mechanical fields that will be used in flexible membrane wave energy converters.

Eligibility

Candidates must hold an Upper Second Class (2.1) honours degree in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline. If you are eligible to apply for the scholarship (i.e. a student who is eligible to pay the UK rate of tuition fees) but do not hold a UK degree, you can check our comparison entry requirements. Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency.

English Language: IELTS 6.5 Overall (with no individual component below 5.5) or Swansea University recognised equivalent.

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

Please visit our website for more information on eligibility.

Funding Details

This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend of £18,622.

Additional research expenses will also be available.

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