PhD Scholarship at University of Ghent

University of Ghent, Belgium is inviting excellent students to apply for a PhD position. Potential candidates should apply before February 20, 2019.

High-strength low alloy (HSLA) steel structures are often exposed to hydrogen due to cathodic protection towards corrosion (e.g. in offshore conditions). The structural integrity of these structures is degraded as hydrogen reduces material ductility and toughness. The effects of hydrogen on HSLA steels are not yet fully understood. There is a lack in fundamental understanding of both the material (microstructural) properties contributing to degradation sensitivity, and the numerical techniques to model the process of material degradation.

Ghent University has acquired funding from FWO Vlaanderen (Research Foundation Flanders) for a four-year project investigating the hydrogen assisted degradation of HSLA steels (commonly used in welded structures such as offshore, transmission pipelines, etc.). This project looks at the hydrogen based degradation of HSLA steels in a combined and synergetic experimental and numeric study, and aims to acquire fundamental understanding in the form of a mechanics based damage law for hydrogen induced failure. This damage law will be calibrated on the basis of microstructural and micromechanical measurements, and validated by means of fracture toughness tests of both ex-situ and in-situ hydrogen charged specimens. Particular attention is given to the coupled dynamics of hydrogen diffusion and stress (re)distribution as a crack initiates and grows, and the effect of specimen size in these dynamics. Chosen as a toughness test configuration is the single-edge notched tension (SENT) test. This test procedure has been extensively investigated and optimized during the last decade, given its close relation to the toughness behaviour of thin-walled structures, many of which are exposed to hydrogen.

Two PhD researchers will be working on a full time basis on this project. There will be a strong collaboration between both researchers, and sharing of information will be required in both directions. One researcher (a materials engineer that has already been selected) will focus on experimental material characterisation in terms of microstructural, micromechanical, toughness and hydrogen degradation properties. This vacancy relates to a second PhD researcher, whose focus will be on the development, calibration and validation of a numerical multiphysics (mechanical and diffusion) material model that simultaneously comprises hydrogen diffusion, material degradation due to hydrogen, and damage arising under mechanical load due to this degradation (crack initiation and growth).

An application form is available online (https://www. ugent. be/ea/eemmecs/en/research/soete/vacancies/vacancies). This application form should be sent in pdf format to Prof. Stijn Hertel (stijn. hertele@ugent.

Incomplete applications will not be considered in the selection process.


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