Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

PhD Studentship opportunities in Steel research

PhD Studentship opportunities in Steel research

 Project Overview

Steel is the most widely-used structural material in the world. If a product is not made of steel it is made using steel. Steel is at the heart of UK manufacturing sectors such as automotive, aerospace, construction, packaging and defence. It is an indispensable component of the UK’s future national infrastructure such as transport, communications and energy, and for high-tech 21st century industries, from energy-positive buildings to wind turbines and electric vehicles.

WMG are part of a large collaborative network project, SUSTAIN, which is working to transform the steel supply chain, making it cleaner, greener and smarter, and more responsive to the fast-changing needs of customers. Work within the project is concentrated on two broad areas:

  • Zero waste iron and steelmaking, with the aim of making the industry carbon-neutral by 2040: Steel is already the world’s most recycled material, but the network will investigate new ways of making the industry’s processes and products even greener, such as harvesting untapped energy sources, capturing carbon emissions and re-processing societal and industrial waste streams.


  • Smart steel processing: like any 21st century industry, steelmaking involves masses of data. SUSTAIN will develop new ways of acquiring and using these data to improve the steels produced as well as in new metallurgical processes, which can deliver bespoke high tech products.

Associated with this programme are PhD research opportunities and we are looking to recruit excellent candidates to join the team. This is an exciting opportunity to work as part of our Advanced Steel Research Centre (ASRC) at WMG, University of Warwick, an internationally leading centre for steel research. The ASRC is located in the new Advanced Manufacturing and Materials building and has benefited from a multi-million pound investment in new equipment. You will join a group of over 40 people (academic staff, research fellows and doctoral students) working on steel research and also have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers across the SUSTAIN network (core members of the Universities of Swansea and Sheffield and steel industry) and beyond.

The project areas we are looking to recruit to are given below:

Project 1: Green Hydrogen Based Steel Manufacturing Green hydrogen (i.e. hydrogen produced from renewable energy) as a clean fuel is being explored as a major means to decarbonise the steel industry for the net zero target. This PhD research will focus on some of the challenging and unsolved areas such as product quality of the hydrogen-based reduction process and hydrogen utilisation efficiency by a combined approach of experiment and theoretical analysis. The research will also investigate the behaviours of impurities in iron ores during hydrogen reduction and the impact of the impurities to the steelmaking process. The research will advance fundamental understanding in the use of hydrogen in steel manufacturing and help convert the steel industry to fossil-free industry.

Project 2: Smart Steel Processing - The metallurgical key for unlocking next-generation casting technologies. Near net shape casting has many advantages over conventional processing of steel, with the main pull being the >3 GJ/T energy reduction in production. This step change in production, however, comes at a cost of reduced thermo-mechanical deformation (reduced grain refinement) and strong finely spaced segregation. This project will look at the synergy between casting technology (i.e. changes in solidification rate covering very slow cooling such as ingot casts to fast cooling in strip casting), segregation, rolling / forging reduction, final microstructure and mechanical properties. By using the in-house Rapid Alloy Production suite the project will involve casting, rolling, heat treatment as well as thermodynamic predictions for alloy design, and recrystallisation/diffusion predictions to develop the relationships between processing–microstructure–properties to allow future alloy design/process section choices.

 Project 3: Predicting Optimised Steel Product Processing and Properties The transformation of austenite during processing is key to the very varied property mix obtainable with steel. Control of this is traditionally achieved through alloying element addition and cooling rate (with potential intermediate holds), which can be costly in energy and resources, whilst limiting product size and shape. This PhD will address the role of austenite condition (grain size, shape and deformation) on its stability by developing a finite element-based model for the decomposition of austenite that will incorporate the factors above along with detailed consideration of austenite grain boundary composition and local dislocation densities. This will involve extension of current phase transformation theory and the model will be validated against published and industry data (initially) as well as data from the complementary post-doc project at Sheffield University using model alloys; it is anticipated that some of these will be defined from the model in this PhD. The verified model from this PhD will assist in product composition and processing definition across much of the UK steel industry and so will address both of the SUSTAIN areas noted above.

Desired Student Background

Prospective candidates are expected to have a minimum 2.1 undergraduate (BEng, MEng, BSc, MSci) and/or postgraduate masters’ qualification (MSc) with 65% or above in a relevant science or engineering subject, such as materials, physics, mechanical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, or maths.

Funding and Eligibility

The award will cover full tuition fees and carries a stipend of £15,560 + £3k per annum for 3.5 years*
* please note that the offer of a place on the project following selection will be subject to confirmation of funding.
The PhD is available to UK nationals only.

To apply

Initial general enquiries to Prof Claire Davis (email: ) and specific project enquiries to Dr Zushu Li ( on Green Hydrogen Based Steel Manufacturing, Dr Carl Slater ( for Smart Steel Processing and Dr Martin Strangwood ( for Predicted Optimised Steel Product Processing and Properties.

To apply please complete our online enquiry form and upload your CV.

Please ensure you meet the minimum requirements before filling in the online form.

Key Information:

Stipend: The award will cover full tuition fees and carries a stipend of £15,560 + £3k per annum for 3.5 years.

Supervisors: Prof Claire Davis and Dr Zushu Li

Applicants must be UK residents

Start date: Projects to start from October 2021