Development of impermeable barrier coatings for steel substrates to enable hydrogen storage and transportation

Closing Date:               10th March 2023

Project start date:         1st October 2023

Funding Provider:        UKRI EPSRC CDT Studentship

Subject Area:               Functional Coatings

Key Information

Project Supervisors

Academic Supervisors:

Dr Mark Coleman

Professor Peter Holliman

Industrial Supervisor:

Samson Patole

Aligned programme of study: EngD in Materials, Modelling and Manufacturing

Mode of study: Full-time

Expected Interview Date: April 2023


Climate change is driving the race to a hydrogen economy. In the next decade, its production should become cheaper with storage and use being much easier. Hydrogen will play crucial role in the UK and world’s future energy demand. In order to meet that demand, the steel industry will need to produce suitable steel materials for the transportation and storage of hydrogen.

Tata Steel is one of the top global suppliers of steel products for a wide range of engineering applications, producing strip steels that are manufactured into pipes and pressure vessels for the oil and gas industry. It is well known that hydrogen related degradation of pipeline infrastructures remains one of the biggest integrity management issues in the industry. In order to mitigate this issue, this project aims to develop a barrier coating to allow Tata to produce materials meet the future demands in the hydrogen economy.

There has been some work conducted by a previous engineering doctorate student which focused on testing and quantifying the detrimental effects of hydrogen in terms of fatigue crack acceleration. However, they did not explore a potential solution to mitigate the hydrogen induced failures. This current project will extend the efforts by developing suitable coatings and subsequently test their performance using the test kit developed at Swansea University.

Project Aims:

The successful candidate will be tasked with developing a barrier coating for steel which is suitable for the hydrogen economy. Mainly focusing on two applications; storage and transport pipelines.

Coatings development:

  1. The first task will be to develop a number of coatings based on conventional and latest 2D nanomaterials types.
  2. Develop coatings which are suitable to current technology methods available at WASCO Energy in Hartlepool.

Performance testing:

Once suitable candidate coatings have been developed and down selected, they will need to undergo a series of tests in order to validate and rank their performance.

  1. Physical (adhesion, bendability) and chemical (corrosion, permeation, impedance etc..) testing for coatings.
  2. More specific applications-based tests. This will involve using current mechanical testing equipment in various laboratories at Swansea University with the scope to develop new and novel testing methods to validate the performance of the coatings. These tests will focus on;
  3. Pipe line- Coatings should minimise accelerated fatigue crack growth induced by hydrogen.
  4. Storage- Coatings should avoid hydrogen induced cracking (HIC).

Sponsor Company:



COATED M2A recognises applicants have a variety of backgrounds with different educational and research experiences. We do not expect applicants to be proficient users of any techniques/equipment mentioned, at the time of application. Our focus is to upskill our participants and training will be provided.

COATED M2A in the Faculty of Science and 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. COATED M2A is committed to providing top quality research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by 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.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN silver award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women and other under-represented groups are particularly welcomed. 

All applications will be anonymised prior to short listing.

Are you considering making an application and have questions you’d like answered? Come and have a 1-2-1 chat with us at our applicant surgeries (Link). We encourage all applicants to review our ‘hints and tips’ document found here.


Candidates must normally hold at minimum (or expect to obtain by the start date) an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), or a combination of degree and equivalent experience to the same level.

NB: If you are holding a non-UK degree, please see Swansea University degree comparisons to find out if you meet the eligibility. 

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 6.0 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent. Details on the Swansea University English Language entry policy can be found here.

This studentship is open to candidates of any nationality; however, please note:

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email with the web-link to the studentship(s) you are interested in.


This studentship covers a full award and includes a tax-free stipend (currently £22,000 per annum) and tuition fees, each for a period of four years, subject to meeting University progression requirements.

Also, a generous budget is available to support training, project costs, industry placements and travel to enable you to network and showcase your research at an international conference.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

  1. Course choice (section 1) – for administrative purposes only, please select PhD Materials Engineering and your application will be considered for the Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Materials, Modelling and Manufacturing programme. 

In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

  • Start year (section 1) – please select 2023
  • Personal Statement (section 6) – select ‘Add Personal Statement Text’ and set out your skills and experience and the relevance of these to the project within the text box provided. Please refer to the ‘hints and tips’ guide for details of how to structure your personal statement. Shortlisting decisions will be made on information supplied in section 6 of Apply only. Please do not attach a cover letter as it will not be considered.
  • Funding (section 8) –
  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘[RS313 – Hydrogen]’

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the studentship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email):

  • Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date/interim transcripts are sufficient)
  • Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable).

Furthermore, we invite you to complete the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Monitoring Form (online form).  Data is solely collected for statistical purposes and is not viewed by those that shortlist.

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the studentship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a studentship project is applicable.