Prince Albert provides £80k for ex-soldier’s pioneering materials PhD work
30 Oct 2019
PhD student Shaun Smart has been awarded £80,000 to fund his research into a vital area of materials science.
The former soldier, now a senior project leader for TWI in Cambridge, is investigating the prevention of weld metal hydrogen cracking.
His award comes from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Created at the time of the Great Exhibition by Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert, who died 10 year later, it was intended to award industrial fellowships in perpetuity to enable development of new technologies.
Smart, who received the maximum award available, is researching the phenomenon that occurs when decomposed hydrogen created during welding produces hydrogen ions.
These ions are absorbed into the molten weld pool and remain there during solidification. They then interact with microstructural features, such as dislocations, grain boundaries and vacancies, resulting in high localised stresses and ultimately the cracking of the weld metal if certain conditions are present.
Although some areas of hydrogen cracking such as Heat Affected Zone cracking have been more widely researched, the commission noted there had been little published data regarding weld metal hydrogen cracking. It said Smart’s work would enable progress towards defining control measures for avoidance.
In addition to Smart’s award, this year’s Industrial Fellows include individuals whose work spans artificial intelligence and gene editing, as well as potential treatments for cancer.
Commission chairman Bernard Taylor commented: said: “These Industrial Fellowships provide an opportunity for British businesses to conduct cutting-edge R&D and develop intellectual property at reduced cost.
“These promising young researchers represent the huge diversity of talent in science and engineering that Britain has to offer.”
Shaun Smart is based in TWI’s Arc Welding Engineering department at TWI, Cambridge. He was previously a soldier and tradesman in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) before completing a BEng (Hons) while working at TWI.
Applications for the 2020 Industrial Fellowships are now open, with information here.