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Postdoctoral vacancy (36 months) on FE simulation of mechanics of short fibre-reinforced composites at high temperatures and pressures @ Ghent University (Belgium)

Almost all heat exchangers are currently made of metal. A few attempts have been made to make heat exchangers from (fibre-reinforced) polymers. Switching from metal to polymer/composite can have several advantages:

  • The copper price has increased a lot over the last years, and economical alternatives in polymer might be feasible
  • In corrosive environments (chemical sector, toxic gases, contaminated fluids), metals do not survive
  • For domestic applications, the weight of HVAC systems could be strongly reduced, making it possible for a single man to carry the heat exchanger to the desired location in the house

Two major drawbacks of polymer/composite heat exchangers are (i) their limited temperature stability, and (ii) their bad thermal conductivity. By adding conductive fibres to the polymer, the temperature-dependent mechanical properties and thermal conductivity could be improved. Due to the envisaged processing methods, short fibres are more likely to be used than continuous fibres. Up till now, the research on composites for heat exchangers has hardly been explored, and there is a vast potential for attractive applications. Ghent University has been awarded a 4-year research project with 3 UGent research groups involved (groups of thermodynamics, polymer processing and mechanics of composites). There is a large interest from industry as well, who have defined the demonstrators that have to be built at the end of the project. Finally, there is a strong spill-over possible to automotive industry, where short fibre-reinforced composites are used in "under the hood" applications, components close to the engine, exhaust or other high-temperature regions. Their mechanical stability and fatigue performance are crucial properties to predict. Our research group has 1 postdoctoral research fellow for 3 years, and 1 PhD for 4 years. The postdoctoral research fellow will concentrate on the prediction of the mechanical properties of short fibre-reinforced composites at high temperature/high pressure. Micromechanical homogenization methods will be explored for prediction of stiffness, thermal conductivity and nonlinear mechanical behaviour.

Only candidates with a PhD degree should apply. The candidate should have a relevant background in computational mechanics of materials, preferably combined with experience in homogenization methods.


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