PhD Studentship: Structural Health Assessment of High-value Asset Protection Coatings Using Acoustic Emissions

Cranfield University


Closing Date
7 January 2022

More info

Sponsored by Akzo Nobel, EPSRC and Cranfield University, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £20,000 (tax free) plus fees* for four years

We are seeking to recruit a high-calibre PhD student to conduct structural health assessment studies on high-value asset protective coatings. This is an exciting opportunity under a fully funded iCASE studentship providing an annual £20k bursary. Cranfield’s Centre for Lifecyle Engineering and Management (CLEM) is a world leading institution in autonomous maintenance systems, condition based, predictive maintenance and asset management.  The research will use state of the art facilities and techniques, including Acoustic Emissions monitoring. The PhD will work closely with industry partners at Akzo Nobel UK and be expected regularly to present and discuss findings.

This project relates to advanced structural health monitoring (SHM) techniques, applied to protective coatings in high-value critical infrastructure assets which can degrade due to extreme operational conditions. These assets are essential for the functioning of the oil & gas and marine industries.

The project aims at further advancing previous feasibility studies using acoustic emissions (AE) monitoring. It is ultimately desired to enable damage detection and to infer its source location in applied anisotropic protective coatings.  The following objectives will be met:

  1. Assessment of measurement methods to determine anisotropic coatings wave-speed characteristics.
  2. Detection of damage and to estimate their source location, initiation/direction.
  3. Utilise AE measurements to understand key variables affecting damage initiation, e.g. applied coating thickness, coating density etc.
  4. Expand AE crack detection capability to a range of sample geometry and aspect ratio, under both thermal and mechanical stress.
  5. Develop and validate models/frameworks using AE signals to infer failure mode, and characterise type and severity of damage, etc.

The industrial partner, Akzo Nobel is the world leader in marine, yacht, and protective coatings. These innovative coatings deliver anticorrosive, fire protection and fouling protection.

The project will provide in-depth knowledge of degradation processes of protective coatings under harsh operational conditions. It will lead to prolonging the useful life of National critical infrastructure assets. This innovative research will deliver strategic technological developments, helping to reinforce Akzo Nobel as the leading supplier of protective coatings.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit an applicant with a strong interest on structural health monitoring, who is keen on experimental laboratory work and data analysis techniques, and seeks industry-academic collaboration on applied research. Applicants with a background on physics, engineering or science will be particularly well suited for this project.


Applicants must be classed as a home student and must be either a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or have settled status, or have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements) or have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

How to apply

To apply, please follow this link and click “Apply now”.

For general enquiries about this position, including help applying, please contact:, quoting reference number SATM241.

Posted on 23rd November 2021 in Job Opportunities in Acoustics