The University of Newcastle, Australia

Laser Carrying Spider Robots (Robo-Laser) for Remediation of Marine Corrosion within Navy Ships and Submarines

Closing Date: 31 January 2021Apply Now


PhD Scholarship

Corrosion damage to naval platforms is a leading cost driver to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and its allied forces such as the US Navy (USN). Corrosion damage increases maintenance requirements and creates difficulty for naval assets to achieve their expected service life. The cost of corrosion damage has increased dramatically over the last decade and is currently about $5 billion per annum for the USN alone. While a range of new corrosion prevention methods are available for corrosion control, the options are far more limited as far as the remediation of damaged naval assets is concerned. There is a clear technology gap in this space and as recognised by the NSW Defence Innovation Network (DIN) stakeholders, there is a need for a laser-based approach to corrosion management.

Background:

Corrosion damage to naval platforms is a leading cost driver to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and its allied forces such as the US Navy (USN). Corrosion damage increases maintenance requirements and creates difficulty for naval assets to achieve their expected service life. The cost of corrosion damage has increased dramatically over the last decade and is currently about $5 billion per annum for the USN alone. While a range of new corrosion prevention methods are available for corrosion control, the options are far more limited as far as the remediation of damaged naval assets is concerned. There is a clear technology gap in this space and as recognised by the NSW Defence Innovation Network (DIN) stakeholders, there is a need for a laser-based approach to corrosion management. Laser-based detection and removal of corrosion from the internal parts of naval platforms and other marine vessels particularly those parts with limited access and complex geometries (e.g. inside the ship hull, ballast tanks, engine rooms or the floodable space between the pressure hull and outer hull in submarines), is a promising concept for the management of marine corrosion. However, several key challenges must be overcome before this concept can be transformed into a deployable and cost effective technology. This project overcomes some of the key challenges facing the application of laser-based corrosion management for naval platforms; thus facilitating the deployment of this emerging technology to marine vessels. The intended end-users are the RAN and allied forces but also the Australian Customs, the commercial shipping sector and all other similar industries.

Aims and Objectives:

The key challenges in applying laser-based corrosion management for naval platforms are:

  • lack of robotic platforms with desirable features and performance characteristics
  • uncertainty over the power requirements for laser ablation of marine corrosion,
  • potential adverse impacts of laser’s thermal energy on the metallurgical properties of treated components, and
  • heavy weight and large physical dimensions of conventional laser ablation systems.

Given the above, the principal aim in this PhD project is to contribute to the development of a novel laser-based method for corrosion identification and removal from the internal parts and confined spaces within naval platforms. The research will particularly focus on the following key objectives:

  1. Adaptation of an existing agile robotic platform capable of carrying a payload of laser ablation gear.
  2. Development of a suitable laser ablation source for corrosion removal with due consideration for the type and class of corrosion as well as the potential impacts of lasers on the metallurgical properties and surface morphology of target components.
  3. Miniaturisation and integration of the laser ablation system into the robotic platform to meet the stringent size, weight and power requirements.

Project Activities and Approach:

In line with the project objectives, the proposed research and development (R&D) undertaking will consist of the following complementary sets of activities:

A1: Adaptation of the robotic platform – The approach taken will be to retrofit an existing hexapod platform with custom hardware, enabling locomotion in the intended environments. Using the developed platform, locomotion and localisation in complex environments will be investigated.

A2: Laser ablation studies – The research in A2 will mainly focus on (i) establishing a relationship between the laser power for corrosion removal and the type and characteristics of corrosion typically encountered in naval platforms, and (ii) contribute to Robo-Laser platform design, fabrication and assessment.

A3: Structural / morphological studies – The focus in A3 is to develop a deterministic method to identify and assess structural or morphological changes at the surface of treated metal due to thermal energy of the laser.

A4: Miniaturisation and integration – The approach is to miniaturise the laser ablation source identified in A2 to meet the size, weight and power requirements for integration into the robotic platform of A1.

A5: Performance evaluation – The work will involve proof-of-concept under controlled laboratory settings, field testing in an actual naval platform, detailed optimisation followed by modifications.

PhD Scholarship details

Funding:

Stipend: $28,092 per annum (2020 rate) indexed annually. For a PhD candidate, the living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years.

Top-up (DIN Scholarship): $5,500 per annum for three years

Study Expenses (DIN Scholarship): $12,000 (please note that the project team has already secured several hundred thousand dollars for the equipment, laboratory and other research related expenses).

Supervisor: Behdad Moghtaderi

Available to: Domestic students

PhD

Eligibility Criteria

  • Be an Australian citizen (Essential Criteria).
  • Have a degree in chemical engineering, materials engineering, mechanical / mechatronics engineering or related fields (Essential Criteria).
  • Have some experience with lasers or laser diagnostics systems (Desirable Criteria).
  • The applicant will need to meet the minimum eligibility criteria for admission (Essential Criteria).

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to Behdad.Moghtaderi@newcastle.edu.au by 5pm on 31 January 2021.

Applications Close 31 January 2021 Apply Now


Contact Behdad Moghtaderi
Phone +61 2 4033 9062
Email Behdad.Moghtaderi@newcastle.edu.au

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