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Research Fellow - Mechanistic study of mineral oil degradation in transformers

Organic Chemistry, Synthesis, Catalysis & Flow

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £35,845 to £36,914 per annum
Full Time Fixed Term (10 months)
Closing Date:  Friday 17 January 2020
Interview Date:   Monday 10 February 2020
Reference:  1226620EB

You will be responsible for delivering chemical research as part of an interdisciplinary team led by Professor Paul Lewin and Dr James Pilgrim (Tony Davis High Voltage Laboratory, TDHVL) and Professor Richard Brown (Chemistry) - contributing to a wider programme of work (TOPICS II), funded by a major UK electricity business.. The team will also include two PhD students, academics from Chemistry and TDHVL and scientists and engineers from the sponsoring organisation.

The TOPICS II project aims to increase understanding of failure mechanisms in power transformers, in order to identify when failures are likely to occur and to develop mitigation strategies. You will focus on processes involved in the thermal breakdown of mineral oils used in transformers, and to understand the factors contributing to degradation. The approach will combine laboratory experimental work to recreate thermally stressed conditions within transformers with physical measurements and analytical chemistry methods to identify compounds indicative of breakdown.

The successful candidate will have a PhD* or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in Chemistry.

It is essential you have a strong track record of research in organic chemistry and experience of studying the breakdown mechanisms in organic dielectric materials. In addition, you will be familiar with organic reactivity and possess experience of applying physical and analytical techniques to organic materials such as dielectrics. You will be responsible for day-to-day management of the project locally and will be required to liaise directly with the University supervisors, members of the TOPICS II team, and work closely with the sponsor. This is a great opportunity for you to work as part of an interdisciplinary team, and deliver reports to the sponsor at regular meetings along with responsibility for preparation of publications and presentations at conferences and project meetings. 

For additional information please contact Professor Richard Brown ( by email. For recent examples of research from the Southampton team working on chemical research related to power transformers:

  1. Facciotti, M.; Amaro, P. S.; Brown, R. C. D.; Lewin, P. L.; Pilgrim, J. A.; Wilson, G.; Jarman, P. N.; Fletcher, I. W., Static secondary ion mass spectrometry investigation of corrosion inhibitor Irgamet® 39 on copper surfaces treated in power transformer insulating oil. Corros Sci 2015,98, 450–456.
  2. Facciotti, M.; Amaro, P. S.; Holt, A. F.; Brown, R. C. D.; Lewin, P. L.; Pilgrim, J. A.; Wilson, G.; Jarman, P. N., Contact-based corrosion mechanism leading to copper sulphide deposition on insulating paper used in oil-immersed electrical power equipment. Corros Sci 2014,84, 172–179.

The University of Southampton is a leading UK university, ranked 8th in the UK in REF2014. The Chemistry department was ranked 6th in the UK for research intensity in REF2014.

Equality, diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in Chemistry. In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science we were awarded an Athena SWAN Silver award in 2014 a and a second Silver award in 2017.  Chemistry gives full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy*, onsite childcare facilities For further information please visit

The University of Southampton is in the top 1% of world universities and in the top 10 of the UK’s research-intensive universities. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and being a globally responsible university and has recently been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.  Our vision is to embed the principles of sustainability into all aspects of our individual and collective work, integrating sustainable development into our business planning, policy-making, and professional activities.  This commits all of our staff and students to take responsibility for managing their activities to minimise harm to the environment, whether this through switching off non-essential electrical equipment or using the recycling facilities.

*subject to qualifying criteria

*Applications for Research Fellow positions will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification.  The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon successful completion of their PhD.   Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

Application Procedure: 

You should submit your completed online application form at The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date stated above. If you need any assistance, please call Steff Palmer (Recruitment Team) on +44 (0) 23 8059 7749. Please quote reference 1226620EB  on all correspondence.

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

Further details:

We aim to be an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all sections of the community. Please note that applications from agencies will not be accepted unless indicated in the job advert.

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