Engineering: Fully Funded M2A EngD at Swansea: Erosion of organically coated steel

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 5 April 2021
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Engineering: Fully Funded M2A EngD Scholarship: Erosion of organically coated steel: environmental release of micro-plastic and metallic material

Start date: October 2021

Academic supervisor: Dr Ian Mabbett, Professor James Sullivan
Industrial supervisor: Dr Peter Barker

Sponsoring company: TATA Steel UK, Colors

The Tata Steel group is among the world’s 10 largest manufacturers of steel and spread over various global locations. The Coated products division of Tata Steel UK produce over 250 KT per annum of pre-painted steel for cladding applications in the construction market. The premium branded products produced at the Tata Shotton site are often supported by maintenance free warranties for up to 40 years which is backed up by data from an extensive global weathering program.

Traditionally the weathering program has focused on corrosion and colour retention. However, with increasing environmental awareness and legislation, Tata Steel UK intends to expand product knowledge to understand the potential for natural erosion of organic coated steel and its potential to release micro-plastics and metallic ions into the environment.

Project Aims:
  • To develop an accelerated test to simulate natural erosion of pre-painted steel through rainwater run-off experiments combined with UV degradation of the coating.
  • Use analytical techniques such as UV, ATR FTIR, SEM, and particle sizing to determine the mechanism and rates of coating degradation, and to understand the nature of the organic and inorganic particulates released through processes of erosion.
  • Understand how different climatic conditions affect the rates of erosion and changes in coating characteristics, using through depth profile and surface analysis techniques.
  • Use results of accelerated testing to correlate performance with naturally weathered material.

Predicted Outcomes:
The project will provide an understanding for the potential release of organic material and metallic ions into the environment. Whilst there is no current regulation related to these issues, it is conceivable that future legislation may require abatement measures to prevent release of microplastic and metallic ions.

The results from the project will provide TATA information to offer advice and potential controls for the use of pre-painted steel, should changes to future legislation require it to do so.

The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) in the College of Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry; providing access to world-­class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to providing top quality research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.

Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies. Research Engineers may participate in our career mentoring system, offering opportunity to engage with M2A alumni and other senior staff from across the University.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committee to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women are particularly welcomed.
Swansea University
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Swansea University

Swansea, is a coastal city and county, officially known as the City and County of Swansea in Wales.

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We welcome applications from candidates with a degree (minimum level 2:1) in Materials Science and Engineering or Metallurgy, but will accept other physical sciences disciplines (Chemistry, Engineering, Physics). Equivalent relevant experience that would enable the candidate to fulfil the role may also be considered.

A good appreciation of corrosion performance or how materials may degrade is desirable.

We would normally expect candidates to have met the University’s English Language requirements (e.g. IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) by point of application. 

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is not open to ‘International’ candidates.


Do you wish to become an international student next year?
Demonstrate your English skills with IELTS.


The scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees, plus a tax free stipend of £20,000 p.a. for a period of four years.


Please visit our website for more information.
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