PhD: Unravelling Oxidation Processes for Steels

Research / Academic


This PhD project is part of the Digitally Enhanced New Steel Product Development (DENS) program, in which Tata Steel Europe, Materials innovation institute (M2i) and several academic partners collaborate to enable the development of new generations of advanced materials for e.g. the automotive industry. 

Digitally Enhanced New Steel Product Development (DENS) program Significant progress has been made in the past decades in the development of advanced models that describe the behavior of steel during processing and subsequent applications. However, the quantitative application of through process models in new steel product development still lacks predictivity. In modern steel grades, parameters of the steel production process have a significant influence on the final material properties. Furthermore, the trend towards complex multi-phase microstructures requires very sophisticated models to describe their mechanical properties in a predictive manner. The main scientific challenge addressed in this program is to integrate state-of-the-art models in a single through process model framework that can be applied in practice for new steel product development. 

Unravelling Oxidation Processes for Steels

Is one of the processes in the production chain of steel making that needs further study. The current direction is towards developing oxide behaviour modules (OBM) that can be incorporated in existing predictive models and also in their industrial on-line control model. We will study/implement:

  • Composition, sequence, and amount of oxides depending on the steel, temperature cycle, and gas phase composition;
  • the oxidation-induced diffusion of elements in a multi-element and multi-phase alloy;
  • the effects of alloying elements on the oxidation steels;
  • the aspects of the steel microstructure, such as grain boundaries, on the oxidation behaviour.

First the model will be developed and experimentally validated for pure iron and iron–carbon alloys. Next, the effects of alloying elements on the oxidation of steels will be implemented. Then, the effect of microstructural features, such as grain boundaries, on the oxidation behaviour will be studied experimentally and implemented in the model. Finally, a generic model for the thermal oxidation of steels governing the main features and phenomena occurring during manufacturing of strips will be built. 

The model will be experimentally validated for pure iron and selected iron alloys.


This is a challenging project that could be ground breaking. Although oxidation processes are widely studied not many good models exist yet. Can you make a good predictive model out of numerous publications and experimental data? 
That’s why our preferred PhD candidate:

  • Should hold a Master degree in Physics, Chemistry, or Materials Science; 
  • Has the ambition to do scientific work at a high level, e.g. select useful publications out of many, recognizing interesting conclusions and implementing them into a model;
  • Is a fast reader and critical thinker with a strong orientation on result and process;
  • Shows affinity for physical-chemical modelling of solid materials and has outstanding experimental competences to validate;
  • Boosts experience in multiphysics programs (Comsol or other) and programming in MatLab;
  • Has good communication skills (high degree of English proficiency) and the ability to work in a cross-organisational team, with industry stakeholders, academics and technicians.

Salary Benefits:

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

Work Hours:

38 hours per week

About the company:
Delft University of Technology <p>Delft University of Technology (the TU Delft) is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. The TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At the TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. The TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools.</p>

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