PhD Study : Development of Life Cycle Assessment Tools for Multi-Layered Pipes

  • Salary: Fully funded PhD
  • Location: Belfast
  • Posted:
  • Company: Ulster University Belfast

Advanced fibre-reinforced multi-layered composite pipelines for water and fuel transportation, offer superior mechanical properties and lower weight than conventional materials. One of the company’s major challenges and ultimate goals is to reach sustainability (above 90% reduction in carbon footprint). However, little is known about the environmental impacts and economic costs associated with composites pipes. Hence, this study aims to assist the industrial partner reach its sustainability goals using an integrated life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing framework, as a novel and effective approach. Sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo simulation will be applied to demonstrate the cost result changes caused by data uncertainty. The economic and environmental impact of composite pipes will be evaluated throughout their entire lifespan, to support the selection of materials, manufacturing technologies and distribution for sustainable manufacturing. The LCA and costing tools will be embedded in the company and tested for the first time, to monitor and reduce carbon foot print effectively (e.g. CO2 emissions).

Due to differences in manufacturing processes and material sources, each type of pipeline entails a unique energy consumption. In general, the life cycle of a pipeline network comprises multiple stages (acquisition of raw materials, manufacturing of pipes, transportation to the site, installation, operation, and decommissioning). Throughout each stage, substantial amounts of energy are consumed, and emissions are released. Currently, there is limited understanding of the environmental implications of different piping materials and processes. This study will help establish a sustainable piping infrastructures, and identify materials with low energy consumption and carbon emissions that can meet the pipeline requirements and functionality.

The project will build on the extensive knowledge of both advanced composites and polymers manufacturing at UU and the industrial partner. It will generate a novel LCA and costing tools for advanced multi-layered carbon fibre composite pipes of various dimensions and materials which paves the way for further research in this area within SoE UU. Previously a Cost Model has been developed for 3D Woven Preforms in a research project led by the involved academic team (Prof. McIlhagger and Dr. Archer), which will be used in the proposed project. The findings will be disseminated in high impact journals and conferences.

The student will join the AFM2 group and participate in the training courses offered by UU, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) and the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites & Engineering (NIACE), to develop an in-depth knowledge of several fundamental and complex sciences related to polymers/composites, advanced manufacturing, sustainability, characterization techniques and LCA. He/She will have access to lab facilities in UU and NIACE and office space. The student will become familiar with the production line. Regular meetings will be held between the supervisory team, industrial collaborator and the researcher to set project objectives, develop a work plan, discuss the project progress and future steps.

This PhD is fully funded. For the full details, click here.