Steel surface emissivity evolution during slab reheating.

Key Information

Supervisor: Dr C Pleydell-Pearce and Mr C Llovo-Vidal.

The reheating furnace is a key component of the hot mill in a steel manufacturing plant. Its function is to heat slabs up to their rolling temperature and to minimize thermal gradients through slab thickness. At Tata Steel Europe sites, the reheating furnaces are controlled using output of a computational model, developed in-house to predict slab temperature in real time. Maximizing the accuracy of predictions brings a direct and positive impact through reduced energy consumption for processing and enhanced quality of the product.

Complications can arise through unscheduled mill delays, when the production line stops for an undetermined time, and the slab remains in the furnace at high temperature, promoting abnormal and excessive scale growth and changes to chemical composition and properties of the slab surface. To understand and incorporate knowledge gained into the current model, will improve model predictions and hence temperature control during delay events and relieve subsequent problems in downstream operations. 

The computational model is based on first-principles, so the physical heat transfer phenomena are modelled and accounted for. This give potential to account for transient situations. The model can always be reviewed and improved, and accuracy can be improved by concentrating on the quality of input data.

Thermal conductivity, specific heat and thermophysical properties govern heat conduction towards the core of the slab, and emissivity governs the absorption of heat on the surface of the slab.

Emissivity is known to be affected by many variables, including chemical composition, temperature, surface condition and wavelength. Extensive research has been done on developing scale growth models, but little is known about steel surface evolution with time under heating conditions.

The Research Engineer will:

  • Investigate surface appearance and composition evolution of selected steels under equivalent reheating conditions.
  • Explore the effect of feedstock initial surface condition on oxidation and surface evolution during reheating.
  • Design and develop a rig capable of measuring emissivity of steels along a temperature range equivalent to that of the reheating furnace, and that allows exploration of possible spectral dependence.

Measure experimentally the emissivity of each generated surface, thus providing a time-emissivity curve relevant to the reheating operation.

Swansea university is a top 30 UK institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014) and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) in the College of Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry; providing access to world-class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to delivering high quality collaborative research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners. 

Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies. Research Engineers may participate in our career mentoring system, offering opportunities to engage with M2A alumni and other senior staff from across the University.  

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN bronze award holder and is committee to addressing unequal gender representation.

Applications from women are particularly welcomed. As a positive action to address gender imbalance, female undergraduates considering a career in research are invited to join our two-day laboratory taster session and learn about a typical day in the life of a research engineer.


Sponsoring Company Tata Steel

We welcome applications from candidates with an Engineering or Physical Science degree (minimum level 2:1), or a combination of degree and equivalent relevant experience to the same level to join the M2A community of research engineers.

To be eligible for WEFO funding, applicants should:

  • Be a UK or EU citizen (eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University) and have the right to work in Wales at the end of their studies.
  • Be resident within West Wales and the Valleys at the time of enrolment and for the duration of the candidature.
  • Must not be financially able to participate in study for a postgraduate research degree without the award of this funding

 To be eligible for EPSRC funding, applicants should:

  • Be eligible for home tuition fees at Swansea University.
  • Have settled status in the UK, meaning no restrictions on the length of stay in the UK; and be ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant, apart from temporary or occasional absences.

Not have been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. This does not apply to UK nationals and EU nationals who were ordinarily resident in the EU immediately before the period of full-time education.


Full fees at Home/EU rate for a period of four academic years.

Maintenance stipend at £20K per annum for a period of four years.

Closing Date 15 March 2019

Start Date October 2019

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Informal enquiries about this studentship are welcome and may be directed by email to: M2A@swansea.ac.uk