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PhD Studentship - Design, build and test of a fully-composite tank for cryogenic fluids

School of Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1248920DA

Supervisor:                 Dominic Hudson

Project description

Many of the future low-Carbon fuels being considered for shipping involve liquids stored at cryogenic temperature, such as Ammonia or Hydrogen. The installation of fully composite cryogenic tanks in a marine application has the advantage of potentially reducing the weight of existing storage vessels by 30 % and reducing their manufacturing costs by 25 % [1]. Composite tanks can also offer superior insulating properties, which could minimise the volume of existing system used for insulating the storage tank, or for liquids held at lower temperatures. Composites used for this application would eliminate problems with corrosion and its associated maintenance required in harsh working environments, however, there remain other question and concerns about the following: i) gas permeability, ii) impact resistance, iii) fire resistance, iv) micro cracking primarily from in-service fatigue.

One of the key outcomes from the proposed research, aside from collating relevant information/existing work upon the subject and identifying potential solutions for the issues outlined above; should be the creation of a “work plan” to collaborate with composite manufacturers to attempt to demonstrate the technology by way of design and construction of a prototype for experimental testing.

The new concepts behind the manufacture of a fully composite tank include making a hybrid structure that combine at least two reinforced composite materials. The inner composite may utilise a braided composite to form a “sleeving” that enhances its resistance to crack propagation and also preserves its ability to retain fluid over a wide temperature and pressure range. The outer lining may consist of a wound fibre-resin composite to add stiffness and strength. The assembly, integration and compatibility of dual composite structures are novel and need further investigation, in addition to the assessing the practicalities required to manufacturing such structures with existing or emerging techniques and assessment of their scalability.

The technical expertise within the dynamic structures group, the connections with the composite industry, the wide range of facilities, including world leading capabilities in Non Destructive Evaluation (NDE) of composite structures and materials using CT/DIC/thermography, coupled with the experimental and cryogenic expertise within Cryogenics form a very powerful team, well equipped to explore this field of interest.



Working with our industrial partner, Shell Shipping and Maritime, this project has the potential to accelerate the uptake of alternative fuels for the de-Carbonisation of shipping. 

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Eng & Env(Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Dominic Hudson under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

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