Manufacturing process optimisation for high performance electrical steels for low emission advanced electric drivetrains in automotive applications

Fully funded PhD Studentship – EPSRC industrial CASE studentship with TATA Steel

A fully funded 4 years PhD studentship (EPSRC industrial CASE award, co-funded by Cogent Power a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel UK) is available which aims to optimise the manufacturing process for high silicon electrical steel hot rolled coils used to produce high performance electrical steels for advanced automotive applications.

The studentship is:

  • Open to UK/EU nationals subject to EPSRC eligibility criteria being checked and confirmed
  • For 4 years
  • Available to start as soon as possible
  • Tax-free salary of £18,000
  • Includes 3 month apprenticeship at Tata Steel Port Talbot, Cogent Power (South Wales) and Surahammar in Sweden to get introduced to the project

The project:

Silicon (Si) is one of the main alloying elements in steels used to promote magnetic properties in electrical steels. The high Si content and the thin sheets with thicknesses as low as 0.1 mm, provide the highest magnetic quality final products that is increasingly used in high performance electric drivetrains in automotive applications. However, there are many unknowns about micromechanical properties of high Si content electrical steels. Additionally, several challenges are involved in the production of these steels grades as the presence of Si leads to a reduced formability that makes the material prone to unexpected brittle fracture at several stages during the production. The proposed project aims to develop a manufacturing methodology to be used by Cogent Power to convert electrical steels with 3.2% Si content, produced by Tata Steel hot strip rolling mill at Port Talbot site, into highest quality electrical steels with a thickness of about 0.1 millimetres.

Understanding the mechanical and metallurgical properties of the material at different conditions is the first step to predict their deformation behaviour during a manufacturing process and develop required predictive models. Bespoke experimental setups will be designed in order to investigate and determine the deformation and damage mechanics/mechanisms involved in the hot and subsequent cold rolling operations of the selected material. Multi-scale mechanical tests will be performed to measure microstructural deformation during hot rolling process.
The hot rolling process will be experimentally simulated in order to get a better insight into micro-mechanism of deformation and microstructural evolution during hot rolling of 3.2% Si electrical steel. Thermo-mechanically coupled Finite Element models will be developed to predict formability and damage initiation/evolution in the selected material for different stage of manufacturing operations to be used in Tata Steel Port Talbot site in South Wales. The developed models will be validated using laboratory rolling experiments at Tata Steel facilities within the UK and Europe.

Entry requirements

The studentship is available to candidates with the equivalent of a first class or upper second class degree in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Technology (Metallurgy) Engineering. Skills in mechanics of materials (design and data analysis in mechanical testing), metallurgy of metallic materials, Finite Element analysis (preferably using ABAQUS package and programming with Fortran/C++) are desirable. Relevant research background in fracture/damage mechanics is favourable.

The student should be willing to actively engage with the experimental design and conducting experiments within the university’s laboratories and using Tata Steel facilities. He/She is expected to present the research outcomes for the industrial/academic audience on a regular basis within the UK and Europe. The student will also expect to occasionally travel to visit Tata Steel production sites in the UK and Europe.

How to apply

For further information and informal discussion please contact Dr H. Ghadbeigi. To apply, please use our on-line PhD application form, including your CV and two references and indicate on your form that you are replying to this advert. The short listed candidates will be interviewed at the final stage.

Closing date 31st October 2017.