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Research Projects

The Cranfield MRes students are offered a number of individual projects from supervisors who are willing to support these projects. The projects start in October and are completed in September. The project topics are spread across the field Ultra Precision engineering. Some time, the research project is spent at the sponsor location.

Through your research project, you will have the opportunity to work with industry in areas such as precision machine tools, reel-to-reel, metrology, plasma processing, and abrasive precision processes.

The academics of the Precision Engineering Institute will secure research projects for you either through the industrial partners or from existing research pursued at Cranfield University. The research project provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate independent research capability, the ability to think and work in an original way, contribute to knowledge, and solve real problems. You will select your research project in consultation with your supervisor.

By the end of the research project you will be able to demonstrate your research capability. You and your work will be assessed by appointed examiners.

Here are short abstracts of the projects conducted 2017-18:

The recovery of high value-added metals from spent lithium-ion batteries, Katherine Gobey

Energy storage is a persistent and important challenge for many sectors and industries, and as we move from consistent fossil fuel power generation to erratic renewables, and from combustion engine vehicles to electric and hybrid, battery use and therefore disposal, is ever increasing. Current large-scale recycling relies on either burning the batteries (pyrometallurgy), or placing them in strong acids (hydrometallurgy), both of which present significant environmental concerns themselves. This project aims to investigate whether alginate, an organic compound already harvested in large quantities from algae, could prove a viable option in reclaiming valuable metals from the components of Lithium Ion Batteries.

A measurement system to characterise 3D precision manufactured soft materials for human-like drug screening systems, Dileep Goli

High quality drug screening is essential for current time- and cost-efficient drug discovery and future personalized medicine. Key missing features of existing marketed screening solutions are (a) the lack of a human-like 3D tissue microenvironment and the complex organization of multiple cells into organ tissue mimics (organoids) to simulate proper organ function and (b) understanding of the behaviour of such soft materials.  This project contributes to the latter issue by developing and testing a method(s) for mechanical characterization (calibration) of a phantom soft material in a 3D structure (eg hydrogels).

Characterisation of such a versatile material for this application has inherent challenges due to its visco-elastic properties and the need to keep it hydrated. Additionally for this application the micro-nano scale is complex and standardisation is challenging.  A previous MSc project reviewed a number of technologies and an initial prototype design to measure the elasticity modulus of 3D printed hydrogels samples was proposed. The concept selected was that of placing the hydrogel inside a microfluidic channel. This enables the measurement of deformation from the top, while the hydrogel is hydrated and actuated by fluid pressure. This project aims to develop this measurement system to determine the elastic modulus of the 3D hydrogel structures (provided). 

The tasks will be to review, refine the prototype design and construct a characterisation cell and system and to measure the elastic modulus of the 3D hydrogel structures provided. The device that must be functional over a long period of time without large changes in properties.  

Roll-to-Roll Manufacture of Oxidation Resistant Transparent Conductive Electrode, Phil Krause

This project will develop a fast and cost-effective roll-to-roll manufacturing method for oxidation-resistant transparent conductive electrodes (TCE's) using copper-nickel (CuNi) nanowires (NW's).

The influence of water vapor on the measurement precision of a thermal paint system with material memory, Guicun Ren

Developed in recent years, the thermal history paint has provided an off-line method to acquire the temperature profile of key components in the combustion environment of jet engines with no accessibility required, nontoxicity, high accuracy and durability. Similar to other temperature measurement techniques, the application of thermal history paints requires a calibration in a furnace with thermal couples, where the environment is not strictly the same with that in real jet engines. One of the differences is the content of water vapor in the atmosphere, for almost every fuel produce water in the burning process. The presence of water vapor is believed to disturb the electron realization process in the luminescence effect thus will bring ambiguity to the temperature measurement. In this project, the influence of water vapor to the luminescence effect will be investigated and the mechanisms will be studied to give a better calibration and deeper understanding to application of the thermal history paint.

XCT softgauges, Xiuyuan Yang

X-ray computed tomography (XCT) has been used widely as a non-destructive testing tool in examining the quality of additive manufactured components. However, the software developed for XCT are mostly used for visualisation purposes, where there is limited understanding of the traceability and uncertainty of the software. The project will look into the development of simulation data for software gauge purposes. This project will develop a set of numerical reference samples with various geometries and materials and simulate X-ray projection images with consideration of various influence factors. The projection images will then be used in testing reconstruction and data analyses processes of commercial software. A test procedure will be developed in the project to provide a guidance for software testing purposes.

Areal Roughness Artefact, Junguo Zhao

3D optical microscope has been widely used on the areal detailed observation and surface topography analysis since the extremely high accuracy and measurement efficiency. International standard has system for standardizing the artefacts families, however still owing big potential space to be developed. The overall performance assessment method needs to be innovatively generated for widely used instruments although lateral and vertical resolution material measures have been developed from multiple aspects offering various choices to users for calibrating and adjusting their equipment. Hence, with the purpose that provide the unbroken traceability and achieve the reliable calibration with fully evaluation on integrated performance, areal roughness artefact is required to be developed, which is the aim of the project.