Materials Science: Fully Funded EPSRC iCASE and TATA Steel PhD at Swansea University

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 9 April 2021
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Materials Science: Fully Funded EPSRC iCASE and TATA Steel PhD Scholarship: Emissivity and oxidation evolution in reheating furnace environments

This scholarship is funded by EPSRC iCASE Award and TATA Steel.

Start date: July or October 2021


Project description:
Reheating furnaces are an essential part of Tata Steel Europe’s hot mills. Reheating furnaces are heated by gas burners and aim to heat the steel slabs to their rolling temperature with a known temperature profile through the thickness.

Reheating furnaces rely predominantly on heat being radiatively transferred to the slabs. Since steel is prone to oxidation, the slabs grow an oxide layer on their surface. This has two major effects for the heat transfer from the furnace to the slab:
  • It changes the emissivity of the surface, and therefore the power the slab absorbs from the furnace.
  • It introduces an insulating layer on the surface of the slab, which slows thermal diffusion into the slab.

The oxide layer thickness can be approximately calculated for simple steels, however the evolution of emissivity with time and temperature as well as its dependency on the oxide thickness or topology of the oxide surface is unknown.

The emissivity of oxide scales is known to be affected by a number of parameters, including the composition of the atmosphere, steel grade, temperature, steel surface condition and time. Some of these parameters are within our control, for example the composition of the atmosphere in the reheating furnace, the temperature cycle or the steel composition.

In this project, we would like to understand how temperature cycle and eventually furnace atmosphere affects the surface condition of the oxide scale, and therefore the emissivity. The first industrial aim is to be able to introduce accurate emissivity values in the furnace model as a function of time and temperature, the second aim is to extrapolate this prediction to different steel compositions. An additional aim, if time permits, is to understand how to control the emissivity to maximise it and improve furnace efficiency.

The objectives of the project include:
  • Develop and validate an experimental setup that can measure the emissivity of oxide scales as a function of temperature and time.
  • Measure emissivity as a function of temperature and evolution in time for HSLA and low carbon grades heated in an environment representative of a reheating furnace atmosphere.
  • Relate emissivity changes to changes in the oxide layer, e.g. morphological, structural, or compositional changes.
  • Formulate the relation emissivity, time, temperature, and steel composition to be used in the industrial model.
  • Suggest, if time permits, the optimised furnace parameters, or slab surface modifications to achieve maximum emissivity on the slabs. 

Available resources/facilities:
The student will require access to equipment located within the pilot plant within Swansea University’s Steel & Metals Institute / Tata Steel’s Swansea Technology Centre.

Bay Campus Materials Engineering and AIM Labs will also be required for metallurgical preparation and analysis techniques.

The student will likely also be required to spend time at Tata Steel Port Talbot’s Hot Strip Mill.
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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Candidates should hold a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree (or its equivalent) in a relevant engineering/science discipline, such as Materials Science, Chemical Engineering or Physics. A combination of qualifications and/or experience equivalent to that level may be considered at the discretion of the university. 

Required experience/skills:
  • Demonstratable capability to undertake and benefit from research training through to completion, to qualify for a doctorate.
  • A fundamental understanding of metallic materials and their manufacturing processes.
  • An appreciation for experimental test techniques and analysis methods used in materials engineering applications.
  • The ability to demonstrate an understanding of the project topic, show breadth of knowledge and adapt to various subject areas.
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • The ability to analyse and prepare scientific data and findings for international dissemination such as conference presentations and peer reviewed journals.
  • Demonstratable initiative and independence in research planning and thinking – while being resourceful and creative.
  • A willingness to travel locally (possibly nationally and internationally for conferences and collaborative working) and embed themselves in an industrial-academic setting.

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’s English Language entry requirements, please visit –

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only (EU nationals must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily a resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship).


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


This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £18,500.

There will be additional funds available for research expenses.


Please visit our website for more information.
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