Materials Engineering: Fully Funded PhD at Swansea: Liquid Metal Temperature Measurement

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK tuition fees and an annual stipend
  • 14 June 2021
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Materials Engineering: Fully Funded Swansea University and SUSTAIN PhD Scholarship: Continuous Temperature Measurement of Liquid Metal

This scholarship is funded by Swansea University and SUSTAIN (EPRSC Future Manufacturing Research Hub).

Start date: October 2021

Expected interview date: w/c 5 July 2021

Subject areas: Foundations Industry, Engineering, Physical Sciences

Project supervisors: Professor Cameron Pleydell-Pearce

Project description: 
Liquid steel processing occurs in batch sizes of hundreds of tonnes at temperatures in excess of 1500oC, but the target composition and temperature specifications have ppm and single digit degree windows respectively. This is an exciting and challenging area to work in. Previous research at Swansea University characterised the efficacy of gas stirring systems in the basic oxygen furnace (BOF). Gas stirring homogenises the material in the furnace which enhances the efficiency of metal purification. Post mortem analysis of the ports that delivered the gas (called Tuyeres) revealed the presences of metallic accretions on their surface which have a negative effect on stirring and hence process efficiency. Laboratory water modelling research was conducted to validate these observations and also to design a tuyere that would deliver optimum stirring efficiency. This was combined with the initial observations to define an all refractory design which was patented.

Whilst this presents an opportunity to enhance the efficiency of the process, monitoring these improvements remains a challenge. Currently the process is chemically and thermally monitored discretely at long intervals using disposable probes. If continuous measurement of the process were possible it would revolutionise the steelmaking process both in terms of efficiency and product quality and might be considered somewhat of a holy grail of steelmaking. Previous attempts have been made to do this via optical spectroscopy techniques through gas ports below the liquid line, but the stability of these measurements was poor because the port kept being blocked by accretions. The technology developed above offers an opportunity to circumvent these challenges. Conservative calculations predict a net saving per plant is ~£4.5m p.a. Extrapolated to half of globally produced BOF steel: this equates to a staggering $1bn.

The project will focus on the development of technology that enables real-time monitoring of chemical composition and temperature in molten metal furnaces, delivering a step-change in steelmaking productivity. Surprisingly, no such commercial system exists despite the need and benefits outlined above. Hence to realise this opportunity, unique and transformative approaches will be implemented that adapt and combine the latest advancements in refractory manufacturing and laser metrology. The successful applicant will conduct experiments that help to optimise the stability of the sensor port, building on previous work and associated facilities before working with partners to integrate measurement technologies developed by third parties. They will have the opportunity to work with steelmaking partners and their supply chain including regular site visits and industrial scale experimentation.

Available resources/facilities: As a PhD student in the SUSTAIN Hub, the largest critical mass research activity in fundamental research in the UK, the successful applicant will have the opportunity to access laboratory and pilot facilities across the network. The Hub has close ties with industry, and there will be chances to work with our industrial partners such as Tata Steel UK and British Steel including industrial research on the steelmaking sites.


Candidates should hold a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree (or its equivalent) in Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry/Chemical Engineering or Physics. However, any Science or Engineering discipline with relevant experience will be considered.

Industrial experience, particularly in the metals sector, and experience with optics are desirable.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) to be met by point of application. For details on the University‚Äôs English Language entry requirements, please visit ‚Äst

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.


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This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £20,000. 

There will be additional funds available for research expenses.


Please visit our website for more information.
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