Research Studentship in Hydrogen Embrittlement of Austenitic Stainless Steels

3-year D.Phil. studentship

Project title: Hydrogen Embrittlement of Austenitic Stainless Steels

Supervisor: Prof Alan Cocks

The studentship is a joint research programme between the University of Oxford and TWI Ltd. The research project is part of the Hydrogen in Metals grant – from fundamentals to the design of new steels [“HEmS”] (, funded by EPSRC. The studentship is funded by EPSRC and a scholarship from Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) through TWI’s National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC)

The use of hydrogen as a future fuel places requirements on equipment for the transportation and handling of gaseous and/or liquid hydrogen. Although austenitic stainless steels being considered for this application are relatively resistant to embrittlement by hydrogen, there is potential for embrittlement at low temperatures, where hydrogen can promote transformation to martensite. Also, the presence of notches or cracks, can affect hydrogen absorption, microstructural changes and the mobility of hydrogen. The project will involve both direct observation of structural changes in materials tested in hydrogenous environments, using a range of metallurgical techniques, and the development of numerical models to describe the material behaviour.

The successful candidate is required to spend 50% of the project at NSIRC (based within TWI in Cambridge, UK), anticipated to consist of 6-month periods at each location.

S/he will be a member of the Solid Mechanic and Materials Engineering Group at Oxford University and be supervised by Professor Alan Cocks. Information on the group can be found at



This studentship is funded through the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Doctoral Training Partnership and is open to UK students. Full details of the EPSRC eligibility requirements can be found here.

Award Value

University tuition fees are covered at the level set for UK students, as are Oxford college fees (c. £7,432 in total p.a.). The stipend (tax-free maintenance grant) is c. £14,553 p.a. for the first year, and at least this amount for a further two years. 

Candidate Requirements

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first class honours degree in Engineering, Physics, Mathematics or Computer Science;

  • Experience in computational modelling using the Finite Element method;

  • Experience in mechanical testing and characterisation of materials;

  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills.

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Ability to program in a high level language such as Fortran;

  • Ability to program in Matlab;

  • Experience in environmental-mechanical testing;

  • Experience in the use of advanced techniques for the characterisation of engineering materials.

Application Procedure

Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Prof Alan Cocks (

Candidates must submit a graduate application form and are expected to meet the graduate admissions criteria.  Details are available on the course page of the University website.

Please quote 18ENGIN_03DTP in all correspondence and in your graduate application.

Application deadline:  noon on 19 January 2018 

Start date: October 2018