Instructions to Students
Select at least six titles from the list below and send them to email@example.com immediately. You will be allocated one of them right away.
Instructions to StudentsAll final year students must undertake an individual project. If you have not yet chosen your project, you should do so now.
Dr B Agnew, Dr A Anderson
Dr R Bicker, Prof P M Braiden, Dr S J Bull, Prof J S Burdess
Mr J F L Chan,
Mr R I Davidson
Prof J N Fawcett
Dr E H Fisher
Mr B Gallacher, Prof A G Gibson
Dr J M Hale, DR C Hicks, Dr N A Hoenich
Prof G R Johnson
Dr I Potts
Dr D C Swailes
Prof P M Taylor, Prof D P Thompson
Prof J R White
THE FOLLOWING PROJECTS ARE STILL AVAILABLE.
ALL PROJECTS ALLOCATED
Waterhammer (unsteady liquid and cavitating flow in pipes).
Develop better models for computer simulation and test these against lab experiments. Will involve computer programming, numerical solutions of partial differential equations, fluid mechanics, practical use of instrumentation and transient recorder/frequency analyser. Can focus on any one of a range of specific topics including friction in unsteady flow, column separations (cavitation) at low transient pressures, fluid-structure interaction etc.
Shock tube (unsteady gas flow involving travelling shock waves).
Compare a computer simulation with experiment for this standard laboratory apparatus. Involves some practical instrumentation and calibration problems with the piezoelectric pressure transducers available as well as the issue of how best to produce sudden opening of a "valve" to generate a shock wave. Will involve computer programming.
Application of Taguchi Methods for Quality by Design.
Taguchi is associated with a set of statistical design and analysis of experiment tools intended to help design quality into a product by choosing the composition of controllable design factors that make it most robust. Learn about and apply these to a production process or design problem being considered within the Department.
optimisation methods (Genetic Algorithms, Simulated Annealing, Tabu search.
These are design optimisation techniques that mimic biological or physical processes. Apply one or more (or variants of one) to some typical engineering optimisation problems to see how will they work and how they might be improved. Will involve computer programming and use of shareware.
a reverse-carnot cycle to simulate accumulator/surge protection receiver performance.
Air receivers or accumulators are commonly used on hydraulic lines and liquid pipe systems to protect against pressure surges. There is some evidence that these behave like a reverse-carnot cycle. Use computer simulation to explore whether this is feasible and whether it opens up a path to improved accumulator design. Involves thermodynamics and heat transfers.
ALL PROJECTS ALLOCATED
Braiden2. The efficiency
of computer aided production management (CAPM) programmes.
A variety of methods are available for the scheduling and control of manufacturing operations (eg. MRP systems). A method has recently been developed in this department to determine the efficiency of these systems in terms of their contribution to competitive advantage. This project would involve the further testing and development of this methodology with a number of companies. (M.Eng)
methodologies for business process re-engineering (BPR).
A number of methodologies have been proposed for BPR and these are widely applied. However, little attention has been paid to the selection of an appropriate methodology with regard to the company type and the particular project being undertaken. The objective of this work would be to evaluate the various methodologies with respect to company type and project. The project follows a PhD programme recently completed in the department. (M.Eng.)
of cold work and annealing on the mechanical poperties of copper alloys
Brass and bronze bellows are used as flexible hoses in a range of water handling equipment including the power showers manufactured by Kohler Mira Ltd. These bellows are manufactured from copper alloy strip by deep drawing and press forming. However, due to the work hardening which occurs during drawing and press forming several annealing stages are necessary to ensure that the component does not fail during manufacture. This project will investigate the use of hardness testing to monitor the manufacture and annealing processes in order to identify the potential causes of intermittent failure in bronze bellows produced by Kohler Mira. The project will involve trips to/liaison with the company. (BEng S3/MEng S3/S4)
Burdess1. Measurement of Cable Tension
Skills: Design, manufacture and testing
The project consists of designing a strain gauged mast system to which a cable ,under tension, is attached. An oscillating rotor will be fixed to the cable at a defined point and the response of the cable measured to produce a transfer function. The transfer function will be used to produce an estimate of the cable tension.Burdess4. Fun Project-DYNAMIC ART
Skills: Design, Testing, Computing
(i) A New Zealand artist has proposed a very flexible cantilevered plate as the basis for a piece of 'dynamic' sculpture. The purpose of the project will be to design the cantilever and a method of excitation and to build a test structure. A simulation of the dynamic behaviour of the cantilever can be undertaken using MatLab/Simulink (good analytical skills needed).
(ii) Interesting lighting and dynamic effects can be observed on the surface of water that has been excited into vibration. A container based upon a 'metal bowl' and excited by piezoelectric actuators will be designed and built. The container will be partially filled with water and the assembly will be excited over a range of amplitudes and frequencies. A finite element analysis of the arrangement can be undertaken
Skills: Design, Manufacture and Testing
Changes to the natural frequency of a vibrating piezoelectric disc can be used as a measure of small amounts of added mass. The project will be concerned with (i) the creation of suitable electrode patterns on the piezoelectric disc, (ii) the design of a rig to support the disc and (iii) the measurement of added mass to selected regions of the disc via electrochemical deposition or evaporation. No prior knowledge of piezoelectric resonators is required. This form of micro-mass- balance has potential application as a biological/medical sensor.
Burdess6. Modal Matching in Vibrating Cylinders
Skills: Computing and Experimentation
The vibration characteristics of a cylindrical cup resonator will be considered
by finite element analysis. By considering different geometric forms of cup
-radius and length- a geometry will be found which gives two independent modes
of vibration ( called the cos2q and cos3q modes) identical natural frequencies.
A test cylinder will be produced in order to verify the special geometry. This
project has application to the design of a three-axis vibratory gyroscope.
Chan2. Boundary Element
Analysis of Thermal Stresses
The boundary element method will be employed to analyse thermal stresses generated in engineering components which will be subjected to severe thermal shock during their normal service life. A review of existing literature with respect to experimental work on thermal shock will be undertaken. Computing models will then be developed for analysing selected cases from the published work.
The computing packages of both BEASY and PAFEC will be used.
The candidate for this project should take MMM446 Fracture Mechanics and Stress Analysis as one of his/her final year options
Chan3. T8 Steady Bearing/Bush Life Expectancy and Fluid Flow
This is an industrially based project to be undertaken at DuPont, Wilton site, and will be jointly supervised by Dr D C Swailes.
Fluid flow inside large vessels will be modelled. From the information known about bush dimension and material, the life expectancy and maintenance philosophy for these critical parts of the plant will be developed.
There would be an opportunity for summer placement for the candidate who is undertaking this project.
The candidate for this project should take MMM345 Quality Assurance and Product
Liability as one of his/her final year options.
Plant Reliability and FMEA Study
This is an industrially based project to be undertaken at DuPont, Wilton site.
The aim is to progress and further develop the plant's Failure Mode and Effects Analysis system. This involves working in a multi-disciplined team to achieve result to a short time scale during a summer placement. The candidate will produce a number of maintenance philosophies for key and critical parts of the plant.
This will be followed by a reliability engineering study for the plant during the next academic year. Root cause analysis, FMEA and other operational improvement methods will be studied and utilised in order to improve plant uptime.
The candidate undertaking this project should take MMM345 Quality Assurance
and Product Liability as one of his/her final year options.
Chan5. A comparative
Study of the Markov and Simulation Models for Plant Maintenance
Both the existing Markov and Simulation models will be further developed for modelling the reliability of plants and production lines as part of a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) research programme.
This represents a challenging project for the mathematically competent and computing literate candidates. The candidate undertaking this project should take MMM345 Quality Assurance and Product Liability as one of his/her final year options.
ALL PROJECTS ALLOCATED
ALL PROJECTS ALLOCATED
Simulation of the flow past wedge probes
The wedge probe is a simple device to measure flow direction and magnitude. Design has been based traditionally on empirical data and the resultant probe invariably requires calibration.
The project will involve both experimental work and simulation using the Fluent package. Attendance at the CFD Fluent sessions is thus a pre-requisite.
Objectives will include:
1. Windtunnel calibration of existing probes.
2. Fluent simulation of at least two-dimensional flow past probes at differing
3. Comparisons with published empirical design data.
4. Possibly more detailed windtunnel investigations.
Fisher4. Full Matrix Quality Procedures in Academic Course Design
Recent trends in Quality Assurance of academic courses have led to a number of questionnaire based full matrix analyses. The results of this apparently scientific approach are not always as specific as might be expected.
The project will involve:
1) A literature survey of the Quality literature to establish good practice and other experience.
2) Review and revision of content and assessment matrices based on MMM modules vs. Benchmark learning outcomes.
3) Consideration of the University Taught Programme Review approach.
Fisher5. A study of Victorian
water pumping engines with particular reference to Ryhope.
Possibly the major contribution to urban health in the 19th century was the development of clean water distribution schemes. Central to this development was the steam pumping engine.
Students will need transport to travel to Ryhope (near Seaham) and archives and other sites of interest throughout Northumberland and Durham.
The objectives are:
1. A brief review of water distribution developments in NE England during
the Victorian period.
2. An engineering overview of the Ryhope engine and any alternatives located
in the area.
3. Estimation of engine performance and design calculations for the main
Gallacher1. A Study of
the Effect of Mass Imbalance on Vibrating Rings
Skills: Modelling, Design and Testing
In many situations the presence of mass imbalance in rings is a primary concern. For example, mass imbalance may lead to instability of motorcycle tyres or reduced performance in ring gyroscopes. This project is concerned with the effect of the addition/removal of mass, on the natural modes of vibration of a ring. The aim of the project will be to (i) design a suspended ring (ii) employ finite element modelling and analytical techniques to predict the effect of the added/removed mass on the natural frequencies (iii) fabricate the suspended ring (iv) measure the natural frequencies for different mass arrangements (vi) compare measured results with predictions. Laser vibrometry will be used to measure the natural frequencies of the ring. No knowledge of laser vibrometry is required.
Modal Analysis of a Double Clamped Beam
Skills: Modelling and Experimentation
The vibrating beam has become a common element in many micromechanical applications. In this project the natural modes of vibration of a double clamped beam fabricated from steel will be studied. A piezoelectric excitation method will be employed to drive the beam into resonance and its frequency response will be measured for different drive voltages. The aim of the project is to (i) design a range of double clamped beams (ii) employ both finite element and analytical techniques to predict the natural frequencies (iii) measure the frequency response of the beams for various drive voltages (iv) compare with predictions.
Centre for Composite Materials Engineering
The CCME offers a range of interesting projects involving both measurement and modelling of the behaviour of composite materials. Most of the projects will be carried out in collaboration with industry. This year, the following projects are on offer. Please see Professor Gibson for further details, or if this list does not contain the composite materials project in which you are specifically interested.Gibson4. Repair of steel pipework using composite materials.
Gibson5.Design and prototype
manufacture of an artificial heart valve.
Replacement heart valves are currently made either from material of organic origin or from synthetic polymeric materials. The latter materials are more durable, but require constant use of anti-coagulant drugs. One of the factors that lead to the onset of coagulation is the coming together of relatively hard surfaces during the closing of the valve, which is thought to result in microcavitation. Using a 'composite' material in the heart valve design could enable a much softer, less damaging matrix polymer to be used, along with local reinforcement. The project, which will involve achieving a familiarity with biomaterials, will involve the construction of a 'larger than life' prototype, to demonstrate the feasibility of such a valve design. The project will interest a student wishing to pursue a career in the bioengineering area. The work will be carried out in collaboration with a surgeon who routinely installs heart valves.
There is a new class of inorganic polymers known as georesins. These silicate polymers can be used in the normal way in the preparation of composite laminates. However, unlike their organic counterparts, they are non-flammable, and thermally stable at temperatures up to 1,500°C. This project will investigate the manufacture and characterisation of novel heat-resisting structures from these resins. The work will appeal to students with a flare for making things, along with an inventive imagination. The work will be carried out in collaboration with the French manufacturer of georesins.
Hale 1. Evolving muscles
The genetic algorithm (GA) is an established optimisation technique based on natural selection, "learning" from early solutions to a given problem and progressively homing in on improved solutions over a number of generations. It has been used successfully in the design of complex, multi-variable engineering structures such as gas turbines and communications networks.
It is proposed to test the ability of the GA to simulate real evolution by modelling the development of human leg muscles. The distribution of bulk between the ten major muscles driving the leg will become the design variables which the GA will attempt to optimise to give maximum running speed for least energy expenditure. The objective will be to get the GA to come up with the same design solution as Mother Nature.
This project will build on the excellent work of current student, who has developed a biomechanical model of the upper leg alone.
The project will be mainly computational, but may require some biomechanical experimental work. It will suit a student with an interest in biomechanics and computation.
Hale 2. Automatic Filament Winding Pattern Design
Filament winding is the process of making hollow bodies of glass reinforced plastics (GRP) by winding long fibres over a mandrel of the required shape. For shapes other than a cylinder, the difficulty is to devise a winding pattern that will cover the surface evenly whilst obeying a number of well defined rules that ensure successful winding.
The objective of the project will be to write a program that will design a winding pattern for a given shape of mandrel. The work will be computer based, involving fairly heavy vector maths. It will suit a student with good mathematical ability and an interest in engineering production and computer programming.
Hale 3. Bi-axial dynamic strain measurements using piezoelectric paint
Piezoelectric paint is a new sensor material developed at Newcastle University. We spray it onto the surface of a structure and it measures any shock and vibration that is present. The material works well, but it is not clear exactly what it measures when the stress and strain are not simply one dimensional.
The objective of the project is to find out. This will involve adapting an existing test rig to generate stress and strain independently in two axes and making a set of careful measurements.
A MEng student would also be expected to analyse the results in the light of two dimensional stress and strain theory.
BEng or MEng
Hale 4. Engine simulation
and the optimisation of engine management systems
Engine management systems (EMS - "the computer at the heart of your car") are actually rather crude closed loop controllers. The ignition timing, fuel injection timing, etc. are obtained from engine speed and load according to a "map" programmed into the EMS. The outputs are than modified to take account of other factors such as temperature and exhaust gasses. These maps and the add-on patches are developed for each engine in an ad hoc way over the years to comply with emission regulations, but are far from ideal.
The genetic algorithm (GA) would be good for optimising an EMS map, but running an engine for the time required would be very expensive. The alternative is to use an engine simulator to try out the idea and test its viability. A suitable fast running simulation program has been written and is ready for testing in this application.
The objectives of the project would be:
to develop programs to run it over various urban cycles,
to couple the simulator program to an existing GA program,
and to run the GA to generate optimised EMS maps according to various criteria (maximum performance, maximum fuel economy, etc) whilst meeting emission regulations.
This project will involve programming in C++. It will suit a student with good computational ability and an interest in cars.
The development of optimum
manufacturing layouts using genetic algorithms.
A range of optimisation methods have been used for generating manufacturing layout. A relatively new approach is to use Genetic Algorithms (GAs) that imitate evolution to produce solutions. GAs include a number of parameters: the population size, number of generations and the probabilities of crossover and mutation. This project will involve using statistical methods to identify "optimum" Genetic Algorithm parameters for generating layouts for companies that produce complex products in low volume. If the project is taken at Stage IV new genetic operators would also be explored.
Hicks2. Risk management in engineer-to-order companies (Stage 4)
This project will review the identification, quantification and classification and classification of risk and will develop a framework that can be used for companies to identify, model and mitigate risk.
The role of specifications in capital goods
companies (Stage 4)
This project will review the role of engineering specifications and their role in supply chain relationships. Business process based models of the specification process will be developed in collaboration with local companies.
the impact of deregulation on the power generation industry
The deregulation of the power generation industry has had a major impact throughout the world. This project will evaluate the impact of these changes on the technologies used for power generation and the fuels used.
Hicks6. The development
and comparison of alternative genetic algorithms for generating "optimum"
manufacturing layouts (Stage 4 only).
A range of optimisation methods have been used for generating manufacturing layout. A relatively new approach is to use Genetic Algorithms (GAs). There
are a range of alternative crossover and mutation operators that may be used. This project will involve coding a range of operators, the performance of
which will be compared using statistical tests. This project will involve substantial computer programming in Pascal.
Hoenich1. Analysis of
the flow distribution in artificial kidneys.
Currently used artificial kidneys utilise bundles of hollow fibres through which the blood flows. The outer side of the fibres are rinsed continuously with a salt solution to facilitate mass transfer. Although such devices are analogous to the shell and tube heat exchangers, in which the arrays are tubular, regularly spaced, allowing interactions between adjacent tubes at high packing densities to be taken into consideration, for dialysers the fibres are randomly distributed whose behaviour can deviate significantly from ideally distributed models.
The project will consist of setting up and running experimental studies to investigate the flow distribution in both the blood and the rinsing fluid pathways and establish the nature and magnitude of the deviations from an ideal regularly spaced hexagonal array of fibres of clinically used devices and investigate the potential role of device area in such deviations.
1. Bao L, Liu_B, Lipscomb GG Entry mass transfer in axial flows through randomly packed fibre bundles AICHE Journal 1999; 45: 2346-2356
2. Lemanski J, Lipscomb GG. Effect of shell side flows on hollow fibre membrane device performance AIChe Journal 1995;41:2322-2326
3. Allen R, Frost TH, Hoenich NA . The influence of dialysate flow rate on hollow fibre hemodialyzer performance. Artif Organs 1995; 19: 1176-1180
4. Leypoldt JK, Cheung AK, Agodoa LY, Daugirdas JT, Greene T, Keshaviah PR. Hemodialyzer mass transfer-area coefficients for urea increase at high dialysate flow rates Kidney Int, 1997; 51:.2013-2017
Catheters are used in a variety of clinical applications which include access to the circulation and delivery of drugs. Essentially they are a tapered plastic tube. The purpose of the project is to investigate the flow characteristics of two different types of catheter, one used in obtaining access to patients circulation for the treatment of renal or kidney failure, the other used in heart surgery. In addition to the determination of the catheter flow, it is envisaged that a a series of laboratory studies will be undertaken using both aqueous solutions and blood substitutes in which the role of differing catheter tips will be studied leading to an understanding of the role of the tip on the flow characteristics permitting the optimisation of the tip geometry.
1. Muehrecke DD, Cornhill JF, Thomas JF, Cosgrove DM. Flow characteristics of aortic cannulae. J.Card.Surg 1995;10:514-519
2. Arom KV, Ellestad C, Grover FL, Trinkle JK. Objective evaluation of the efficacy of various venous cannulas. J. Thorac. Cardiovasc.Surg 1981;81:464-469
modelling of renal replacement therapy.
During dialysis metabolite concentrations in the blood decrease at an exponential rate determined by the rate of removal across the artificial kidney, and the solute distribution volume within the body. Mathematical models exist to describe such behaviour. The project will consist of two elements:
1. To utilize such relationships to guide or analyse dialysis therapy, and investigate the potential roles that altering patient and treatment related parameters has on the delivery of adequate therapy both in chronic and acute renal failure
2. Investigate the deviations introduced by the use of using continuous on line measurements of ionic rather than metabolite transport.
1. Gotch FA. The current place of urea kinetic modelling with respect to different dialysis modalities. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1998;13 Suppl 6:10-4.
2. Locatelli F, Di Filippo S, Manzoni C, Corti M, Andrulli S, Pontoriero G. Monitoring sodium removal and delivered dialysis by conductivity. Int J Artif Organs. 1995 Nov;18(11):716-21.
3. Goldau R, Kuhlmann U, Samadi N, Gross M, Graf T, Orlandini G, Marcelli D, Lange H. Ionic dialysance measurement is urea distribution volume dependent: a new approach to better results. Artif Organs. 2002 Apr;26(4):321-32.
4. Di Filippo S, Manzoni C, Andrulli S, Pontoriero G, Dell'Oro C, La Milia V, Bacchini G, Crepaldi M, Bigi MC, Locatelli F. How to determine ionic dialysance for the online assessment of delivered dialysis dose. Kidney Int. 2001 Feb;59(2):774-82.
of anticoagulation in dialysis.
During dialysis because the blood comes into contact with foreign materials the coagulation mechanisms oare activated. This sytem is controlled by the infusion of an anticoagulant ( heparin) The project will investigate will investigate patient dose response characteristics by the use of a bedside monitor to measure anticoagulation efficiency and apply the data to a mathematical model to optimise anticoagulation.
1. Seifert R, Borchert W, Letendre P, Knutson R, Cipolle R. Heparin kinetics during hemodialysis: variation in sensitivity, distribution volume, and dosage. Ther Drug Monit. 1986;8(1):32-6.
2. Kandrotas RJ, Gal P, Douglas JB, Deterding J. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of heparin during hemodialysis: interpatient and intrapatient variability. Pharmacotherapy. 1990;10(5):349-55.
3. Mitsuoka JC. A calculator program to determine heparin requirements during hemodialysis. Comput Biol Med. 1983;13(3):239-43.
4. Khazine F, Simons O. Pharmacokinetic monitoring of heparin therapy for regular hemodialysis. Artif Organs. 1985 Feb;9(1):59-61.
Hoenich5. The investigation
of the fluid dynamics of continuous haemofiltration.
In haemofiltration, used in the treatment of acute renal failure, fluid is removed continuously from the body via blood filtration. The fluid removed is replaced by fluid transferring from other body compartments but as this rate of transfer may differ from the rate of removal, an increae in red cell concentration of the blood occurs. The purpose of this project is to investigate the role that such concentration has in the fluid dynamic behaviour of the filter using the Cassonian model of blood.
1. Pallone TL, Hyver S, Petersen J. The simulation of continuous arteriovenous hemodialysis with a mathematical model. Kidney Int. 1989 Jan;35(1):125-33.
2. Akcahuseyin E, Vincent HH, van Ittersum FJ, van Duyl WA, Schalekamp MA. A mathematical model of continuous arterio-venous hemodiafiltration (CAVHD). Comput Methods Programs Biomed. 1990 Mar-Apr;31(3-4):215-24.
Johnson1. Calibration of Systems for Measurement of Three Dimensional Movements
Biomechanical measurements are frequently made using a system of multiple cameras and an associated computer system which can calculate the co-ordinates of reflective markers in the field of view. The accuracy of these systems is dependent upon a number of variables - for instance the camera positions, the size of reflective markers and the position of the markers within the field of view. There is a need, therefore, to develop a standardised calibration method which can be used to compare systems in different laboratories and from different manufacturers.
(i) Survey of current measurement and calibration systems
(ii) Development of a calibration fixture for use with the VICON 8 camera system currently in use in the biomechanics laboratory
(iii) Determination of accuracy and reliability of the VICON system for a number of camera configurations
(iv) Comparison of data with published information
Johnson2. The forces in walking sticks
Many elderly and disabled people depend upon a walking stick for safe mobility. However, while these are very valuable aids, the user must support additional loading at the arm and shoulder. The objective of this project is to develop a load measuring walking stick to investigate the associated loading of the arm and shoulder.
Description of work
(i) To investigate the feasibility of different load measurement techniques and to review what has been done by other researchers.
(ii) To choose a suitable approach and develop a load measuring system.
(iii) To use this system together with the VICON movement measurement system to determine the line of action of the applied load with respect to the coordinates of the elbow and shoulder.
Johnson4. Design of recoil starters for garden and other machinery
The engine of powered garden machinery is usually started by a recoil starter. However, there are few data available on the strength required to pull the starter or the best position for the handle. The objective is to study the movements and forces applied to the handles of recoil starters on garden machinery in order to determine the moments at the elbow and shoulder.
(i) To modify a existing test rig to allow studies of the effects of different handle positions.
(ii) To collect biomechanical data using the laboratory movement measurement system
(iii) To analyse the moments at the elbow and shoulder and to make recommendations for the position of the recoil starter on a lawnmower.
Potts1. Measurement of Oil Hold-up in Micro-Fibre based Air Filters (B.Eng. / M.Eng.)
Filters utilising glass micro-fibre media are commonly used to separate oil aerosol from compressed air. A novel, capacitance based measurement technique has been developed at Newcastle to determine the oil content of the filter medium dynamically, during filter operation. Results may be influenced by second order parameters other than oil content, however, and further testing is necessary in order to confirm the interpretation of results. The project will involve rig design and test work, mathematical and computer modelling. Some collaboration with a local filter manufacturer may be possible.
Potts3. CFD calculation of Transient Heat Transfer in Porous Media. (B.Eng. / M.Eng.)
This follows on from a previous Stage 3 project, undertaken in collaboration with a local SME, in which many of the mathematical models necessary for solution of real problems were established and tested. The task is to implement these models, probably as User Defined Functions (coded in the 'C' programming language) for inclusion in a commercial CFD package (Fluent), then compare theoretical predictions with existing test measurements. Refinement of the initial models may be necessary, and collaboration with the initiating SME may be possible.
Potts6. CAL for ThermoFluid Dynamics (B.Eng.)
It is proposed to develop a Computer Aided Learning (CAL) application for possible use as a tutorial aid in Stage 1 ThermoFluid dynamics. One possible vehicle for this would be the Diagnosys package developed by Dr. Appleby. Developing and implementing a question database that provides both instruction and meaningful assessment will require a very sound understanding of the basic material and an appreciation of learning styles. It is hoped that opportunities will be available to trial any material produced on Stage 1 students, and acquire some feedback on the usefulness of the tool.
Potts8. The "Brain Drain" (B.Eng./M.Eng.)
Sufferers from hydrocephalus may need to have a 'shunt' tube surgically fitted to drain up to 500 ml per day of fluid from the brain. Testing the correct operation of such shunts is a major problem, and a local neuro-surgeon has an active interest in developing a non-invasive technique for sensing the flow in these devices. It is proposed to examine the feasibility of some postulated measurement devices by computer modelling and (non-clinical) experimental test and possibly to synthesise and test some alternative schemes. This is an open-ended project, and the conclusion could be that none of the systems examined are feasible within the constraints specified.
Swailes1. Void growth in polymerizing cements.
In hip replacement surgery the ball joint at the head of the femur is often replaced with an synthetic implant. This implant is secured within the neck of the femur using a cement that hardens through a process of polymerization. The heat released in polymerization causes small voids (air pockets) within the cement to expand, counteracting the contraction of the polymer as it hardens. The final size of these voids can be important in determining the life-time of the artificial joint: If the voids are too large they can reduce the structural integrity of the joint, whilst, if they are too small, the overall contraction of the cement volume may lead to the implant working lose.
Using ideas from heat conduction, gas thermodynamics and elasticity this project will develop simple models describing the growth of these voids. Results from the models will be assessed by reference to existing experimental data.
The work will make use of numerical methods and familiarity with MATLAB is necessary.
Swailes2. Fatigue crack growth under random loading.
The study of crack growth in metals undergoing cyclic loading has a long history, and there is a large body of both experimental and theoretical work on the subject. Whilst much of this work is concerned with the case of constant amplitude loading, many practical situations involve load amplitudes that vary in an unpredictable way.
This project will investigate some simple differential equations that model crack growth under cyclic random loadings. We will assess how the statistical properties of the loading influence crack growth rates, and develop and evaluate models that take into account the effects of intermittent overloads.
The work involves techniques from probability/statistics and will use numerical methods. Familiarity with MATLAB is desirable.
Swailes 4: Stochastic modelling of machine failures in production lines.
A simple mathematical model has been developed to study the influence of machine failures on the efficiency of production lines. This model makes certain simplifying assumptions about the statistical occurence of these failures, and includes an approximation to account for the accumulation of reserve buffers (inventory) that
can be used to sustain production in the event of failures.
This project will involve the development of a computer simulation of such
production systems using MATLAB. This will be used to assess the
viability of the mathematical model, and to study the role of failure rate distributions on production.
The project will require programming skills and familiarity with some
basic statistical ideas.
ALL PROJECTS ALLOCATED
Thompson1. Transformation toughened silicon nitride ceramics
Many rare earth aluminates exhibit martensitic transformations to a lower temperature form on cooling below 1200-1400oC with an associated volume increase. This volume change can be used to enhance toughness in the same way as the transformation toughening observed in zirconia-containing ceramics. This phenomenon will be explored in the Si3N4 - Ln4Si2O7N2 (Ln = rare earth element) and related aluminium-containing systems for the range of different aluminate-type structures which occur between Ln4Si2O7N2 and Ln4Al2O9. The project will involve material fabrication, characterisation by X-ray diffraction, microstructural observation by Scanning Electron Microscopy, and measurement of hardness and fracture toughness.
Thompson2. Fabrication of complex carbonitride and oxynitride ceramics
The observation that oxynitride ceramics can be produced with structures similar to those of the oxide zeolites, has triggered continued interest in the role nitrogen plays in such systems. A range of new oxynitride and carbonitride compounds will be fabricated in this project, and compared with existing (related) compounds in oxide and other oxynitride systems. Samples will be characterised by X-ray diffraction, and relevant properties (e.g. oxidation resistance and coefficient of thermal expansion), measured.
Thompson3. Control of microstructure and properties by a"b sialon transformation
When a-sialon ceramics in many rare earth sialon systems are heat-treated at lower (1200-1600oC) temperatures, the a-phase transforms to b-sialon with consequent change in grain morphology, and also in the phases present in the grain boundaries. This transformation can be used to modify the properties of strength, hardness and toughness of the ceramic. Many studies have been carried out in these systems, but the present study will focus on incorporating mixed cations into the a-phase in order to control the ease of transformation. Samples will be fabricated by standard sintering/hot-pressing techniques, and characterised by X-ray diffraction. Microstructures will be observed by Scanning Electron Microscopy, and properties such as hardness and toughness measured.
Thompson4. Elongated grain-growth in a-sialon ceramics
The grain morphology in a-sialon ceramics is normally equiaxed, but it is known that under certain conditions (high-oxygen content of the starting composition, high-liquid content at sintering temperature, use of high pressures) it is possible to grow elongated grains. This is important, because the high hardness characteristic of the a-sialons can be supplemented by an increased toughness. This effect will be explored in a range of mixed-cation a-sialons. Samples will be prepared by hot-pressing, and the a/b ratio measured by X-ray diffraction. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) will be used to directly observe grain morphology, and fracture toughness will be measured by indentation to correlate with the SEM observations.
Photo-Degraded Thermoplastic Polymers
Concern for the environment provides significant incentive to develop methods for recycling materials. Although polymer recycling is increasing, the proportion of
waste polymer that is recycled remains disappointing. There are several limitations, most of which relate to the inferior performance of recycled material compared to
virgin material. One concern is that polymer that has been photo-degraded by exposure outdoors to sunlight may contain products of reaction that would accelerate
degradation of the recycled product. This phenomenon will be investigated by conducting controlled laboratory photodegradation of selected polymers and
reprocessing the material into test bars which will be further exposed to UV irradiation before making property measurements. If the problem is confirmed, ways to
combat it will be considered.