Key Information

Academic supervisor: Prof James SullivanProf David Penney
Industrial supervisor: Dr Peter Barker

The Tata Steel group is among the world’s 10 largest manufacturers of steel and is spread over various global locations. The Coated products division of Tata Steel UK produce over 250 KT per annum of pre-painted steel for cladding applications in the construction market. The premium branded products produced at the Tata Shotton site are often supported by maintenance free warranties for up to 40 years, which is backed up by data from an extensive global weathering program.  

Traditionally all premium branded products are produced using a Zinc(95%)/Al(5%) galvanised substrate. However, there is growing evidence that the galvanised substrates using Zn/Mg alloys can provide an equivalent performance at reduced cost.

Project Aims:
Coated products produced using known Zn/Mg alloys can be prone to problems with flexibility and filiform corrosion. The project will aim to consider various cost-effective alloying additions such as aluminium or silicon derivatives to optimise galvanising pot chemistries, to produce a galvanised product suitable for use in the manufacture of Colorcoat products.

The candidate would be required to produce lab scale Zn/Mg galvanised steel panels of various compositions with novel additions, and assess the physical and corrosion performance using SVET, time-lapse microscopy and accelerated exposure tests such as continuous salt spray and prohesion testing. These techniques will enable the candidate to evaluate corrosion mechanisms in-situ at a microstructural scale. This combination of microstructural engineering and in-situ monitoring of corrosion is unique to Swansea University and the candidate will obtain a diverse skill set linking metallurgy and corrosion.

The candidate would need to work closely with the Shotton galvanising team to recommend pot chemistry and to evaluate material produced from controlled production line trials. The candidate will gain a critical insight into the process of taking technology from the lab to production. The successful candidate will integrate into the metallic coatings group at Swansea University where they will have direct access to world lead coatings manufacturing and evaluation equipment. They will join a thriving research group with support from post-doctoral researchers and fellow doctorate researchers who are all focussed on next generation metallic coatings.

Predicted Outcomes:
The research will provide information relating to potential pot chemistries that will be used to develop manufacturing capability at our Shotton site.

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 world­class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. The M2A is committed to providing top quality 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 opportunity 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.

Before submitting an application for the project, please see our Hints & Tips document which can be found here.

Sponsoring Company

TATA Steel UK, Colors


Materials Science & Engineering or Metallurgy preferred, but first degrees in other physical sciences also acceptable (Chemistry, Engineering, Physics). 2.1 minimum qualification. Equivalent relevant experience that would enable the candidate to fulfil the role may also be considered.
A good appreciation of corrosion performance or how materials may degrade is desirable.

Full eligibility can be found at


Fees at Home / EU rate, and Stipend £20,000 per annum, for each of the four years.
For full details on funding eligibility, please refer to the Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) Website (Student Eligibility | M2A).

Closing Date: 11 June 2021

Start Date: October 2021

Applications and informal enquiries about this studentship should be directed by email to: