Fretting wear testing and hybrid FE-DE modelling. Self-funded PhD in Engineering Ref: 3070

About the Research Project

Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, EX4 4QJ

Academic Supervisors:
Prof Christopher Smith, University of Exeter

Project Description:
Fretting wear is ubiquitous in virtually all rotating machinery and vibration-rich structures, for instance in gas turbines (incl jet engines). It is fundamentally different from sliding wear in that debris particles tend to remain inside the contact for much longer or permanently. There are no reliable predictive tools for fretting wear, meaning that friction joints tend to be conservatively designed and machines unnecessarily heavy. Few experiments have been done which explore this phenomena, yet data from these are required for any new modelling tools. Only recently has a new generation of experimental tests and new modelling approaches begun to tackle the fretting wear problem.

It is estimated that if the 100k+ contacting joints in a modern jet engine were to be redesigned using a robust fretting wear model the weight savings would be of very significant value.

Development of new modelling tools by Prof CW Smith, in conjunction with a world leading gas turbine manufacturer, have identified  a strong need for new experiments and new modelling tools to predict fretting wear. Prof CW Smith at Exeter has a unique bespoke fretting wear test facility and some excellent equipment for debris particles analysis. He is also developing new hybrid FE-DE methods aimed at tackling the particle and solid problems at the heart of fretting wear.
Fully funded PhD students are sought in the area of Discrete Element and Finite Element modelling, and fretting wear testing.

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor: Prof Christopher Smith, University of Exeter

Information about current fees can be found here:

Information about possible funding sources can be found here:

Entry requirements

Applicants for this research project must have obtained a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Experience in Engineering is desirable.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.

How to apply

You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and two academic references. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project. You may also be asked to upload verified transcripts of your most academic qualification.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email

Please quote reference 3070 on your application and in any correspondence about this project.


Application deadline:24th September 2018
Value:This project is self-funded
Duration of award:Not applicable
Contact: EMPS Postgraduate Research Office