Multiscale Dynamic Modelling of Carbon-Carbon Friction Braking Materials and Processes PhD

Posted 5 years ago

A PhD position sponsored by Airbus in numerical modelling of physical processes, focusing on solving the challenge in landing gear friction by the use of atomic simulation studies is available. Advanced physics and material modelling concepts will be used as an instrument for the modelling. The candidate will have exposure to work with high performance computing (HPC) clusters to write and design their own programming interface to model and assimilate the nature of friction existing at the interface of landing gear during the landing of an aircraft system. The project also provides a rich opportunity to interact with shop floor engineers and management of Airbus, as well as occasional secondment to their site premises in Bristol, visiting International countries to present the research results via International Conferences and to work across various other departments by leveraging advantage of Cranfield Doctoral Training theme.

Carbon-Carbon composites have been deployed in friction braking applications in both Aerospace and Automotive sectors. Friction performance is highly dependent on component design in conjunction with material properties and the control of industrial process parameters. The process fingerprint couple together with material characteristics makes it difficult to predict the durability of braking, its performance and lifetime. Material development and manufacturing process control are both important for achieving enhanced and more consistent brake performance.

The performance of materials in friction applications has until now typically been verified by empirical experimental tests. This PhD project takes a different approach compared to earlier investigations as atomic modelling is proposed to complement previous experimental data and enhance existing knowledge on brake wear. Numerical simulations will be performed that captures the physiochemical micro/nano scale processes, which will then be utilised when modelling the brake wear for developing a robust understanding by correlating it to the previous experimental data. In this way, the influence of the smaller scale physics on the wear characteristics can be elucidated. This may lead to proposed changes in material selection and/or manufacturing processes for enhancement of brake performance and durability. Due to the multiscale nature of the physical processes such as oxidation, a dual approach to the modelling is proposed, where the micro/nano scale processes are captured using molecular dynamics simulations, while macroscale features are captured via a finite-element approach. A strong coupling between the two approaches will be ensured. Beside a multi-physics problem, another challenge from a numerical modelling point of view is the multiscale nature; both physico-chemical action and mechanical interaction are important for the friction properties. In addition, the wear is due to the abrasion and fatigue.

Cranfield University excels in strategic and applied research. In the latest 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 81% of our research was considered ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in its quality. We are in the top 50 in the world for Engineering – Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing (QS world rankings 2018). The only other UK institutions in the top 50 are Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College London and Manchester. Cranfield is a ‘Top 5’ research institute, based on commercial income. We are second only to Imperial College London, in terms of research power in REF 2014. Our world class academics, with proven research records, are in constant touch with industry through research, consultancy and product development.

Modelling of material, process and design attributes as a means to simulate performance, hence reducing dependency on physical testing, is not widely developed. Such modelling could contribute to the design of material systems, optimization of components and industrial process design, with the intent of reducing cost and leadtime for product development in addition to improving end product performance in the target vehicles. This research seeks to develop and verify multi-physics modelling techniques to enable end-to-end performance based design of friction systems.

You will belong to a new Airbus Landing Systems Engineering Centre (LASEC) at Cranfield University, as well as the separate Centre for Structures Assembly and Intelligent Automation within The School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing. LASEC will be officially launched in March 2020, so you will be part of the “funding team”. Furthermore, working within LASEC will enable frequent contact with Airbus Engineers with valuable access to engineering and physical understanding of the processes in the application area. Funding for conference travel exists. Relocation to Airbus in Filton, Bristol, for a minimum of three months during the 4-year PhD project will be an opportunity for further immersion into the company.  Please visit the website for further information:

Funding Notes

Due to the nature of the funding, it is expected that the successful applicant will be a UK national or EU national who has resided in the UK for three years prior to the start date of the studentship. Due to funding restrictions all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.

Sponsored by EPSRC and Airbus, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £60,036 (tax free) plus fees* for four years and is open to UK/EU students only.

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