Multiphysics Modelling of High Energy Density Advanced Manufacturing Processes (Materials Strand Project)

Supervisor/s: Dr Tom Flint , Dr Ed Pickering (University of Manchester).

Construction of a fusion reactor will require the joining or additive manufacture (AM) of alloys to create high-integrity components. These must have the mechanical properties required to keep the plant safe. We therefore require an understanding of how the microstructures and properties of alloys change as a result of joining and/or additive manufacturing processes. We could create many hundreds of test specimens (with different processing parameters) to understand how the processing is likely to impact material properties. However, this is costly and time consuming. The use of high-fidelity modelling techniques is a very attractive alternative, and offers the possibility to explore a wide processing parameter space at a fraction of the cost of a full experimental campaign.

The evolution of metallic substrates during arc-based AM processes is governed by the strongly coupled non-linear heat, mass and electromagnetic transport phenomena. While current approaches to predict the magneto-thermo-hydrodynamic (MTHD) behaviour of such system are limited to single phases with weak electromagnetic property contrast, in AM processes, the electrical conductivity and magnetic permeability can vary by several orders of magnitude between the metallic and atmospheric phases. An accurate prediction of MTHD in AM requires a mathematical and numerical framework that accounts for multiple phases with large property contrast, descriptions of turbulence development in the fluid region, and solidification. Such a framework would provide unprecedented fidelity and have widespread industrial impact; particularly in safety critical applications such as the fabrication of primary circuit components in nuclear fission and fusion power plants.

In this project, a MTHD solver, geared towards large-scale parallel computation, will be constructed that fully captures the fluid dynamics, magnetic-induction dynamics and heat transfer during arc-based AM processes. This framework will be applied to model welding in 316L stainless-steels, and a direct comparison with experiments will be made possible by leveraging a wealth of data is available within the Dalton Nuclear Institute.

This project will suit candidates interested in numerical methods, programming, computational modelling and simulation and its application to fundamental materials science. The project will be strongly aligned with other complementary projects throughout the departments of Materials and Mechanical Engineering, in a vibrant numerical modelling environment. Although a background in engineering and or materials science is beneficial, it is not essential. Interested physicists and applied mathematicians willing to learn materials science and metallurgy would also make excellent candidates.

At the University of Manchester, we pride ourselves on our commitment to fairness, inclusion and respect in everything we do. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and identities and encourage you to bring your whole self to work and study. We will ensure that your application is given full consideration without regard to your race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, age, marital or pregnancy status, or socio-economic background. All PhD places will be awarded on the basis of merit

This project is offered by the University of Manchester. For further information please contact Dr Tom Flint:

This project may be compatible with part time study, please contact the project supervisors if you are interested in exploring this.