EDF Energy has an R&D centre in the UK with around 50 researchers in situ. The centre is an integral part of the EDF Group R&D network and works across the whole value chain of electricity; successfully leading on millions of pounds worth of international projects. It is a centre of expertise for the group benefiting from the UK's strong experience in a number of topics including Offshore Wind, Intermittency or Smart Grids and works across all EDF Energy specialisms including Nuclear, CCS, Energy Efficiency, Smart Meters, Electric Vehicles, and Digital Futures.

The R&D Centre works in partnership with a number of universities across the UK to sponsor post-graduate research projects. Information will be provided here on EDF Energy sponsored research opportunities when they arise.


The CDT does not specify the degree subject, but for our research topic a degree in Mechanical Engineering or Physics would be appropriate at 2:1 level or above.


Four years

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Oppportunity details

Using BIM, sensors and phone data to improve prediction of a building’s energy consumption

This project, run in collaboration with EDF Energy, aims to use fine-grained data on activity and sensors in a building— along with basic Building Information Modelling (BIM) data — to better predict energy consumption (and consumption needs), in a visualisation platform for building data.

A phone app would let people voluntarily share their activity (e.g. location/movement) when in the building, initially via the Bluetooth beacons installed in the Library by Chalmers’ group, and sensor packs (that record temperature/noise/light/CO2 levels) from the FRuIT project (PIs: Perkins and Singer, SOCS). Susan Ashworth, University Librarian is already supporting exploratory app work. Later, we aim to apply the project’s methods to the Learning and Teaching Hub. We note that Ashworth is on the project board for the L&T Hub, and that Frank Coton has expressed a desire to apply the findings from this kind of project to it.

This PhD would not develop new types of analytics per se (e.g. new forms of statistical model), but improving energy prediction by going beyond the simple linear methods (e.g. regression models) generally used in this context, to non-linear models, by selectively extending the set of features used for analysis. By making the collection of such data economical, we aim to make it more likely that the gains in optimising energy use would more easily outweigh the costs in collecting and analysing the data.

The student would most likely have a Computer Science background, being able to do app development, handle straightforward sensor setups, and to analyse data using contemporary toolkits such as Jupyter Workbench and IBM BlueMix/Watson — bringing to bear the many tools for predictive modelling in these tools and on the web. The co-supervision role of Fiona Bradley in Engineering would be vital, as we ensure that the modelling conforms to the needs and aims of civil engineers. We would also reach out to Estates, for advice and collaboration—as, ultimately, we aim to develop methods to be used by them to reduce and optimise the energy consumption of the Library and other university buildings.

The project

Pressure vessel and pipework systems operating at high temperatures and pressures are vulnerable to creep degradation especially in the region of weldments. Lifetime assessment for high integrity systems, for example those installed in nuclear power stations, requires knowledge of time-dependent creep deformation in and around the welded joints at the operating temperatures. The Materials Engineering Group at the Open University has been using Digital Image Correlation (DIC) since 2004 to obtain full field strain maps of test samples. Based on DIC, significant experience and expertise have been created for successfully measuring spatially resolved mechanical properties in welded joints during tensile testing at room and elevated temperatures, as well as the full field creep strain at long term tests.

These tests are now routinely carried out at the OU's laboratories, which house a suite of 10 testing stations with DIC creep measurement capability (the largest facility of its kind). Recent additions include two testing stations with a capability for 3D measurements and a unique test station with a vacuum furnace for materials are prone to oxidation. The use of 2D DIC full field strain measurement technique is limited on non-flat samples, or if there is a significant out of place deformation during loading, such as in the vicinity of crack tip in fracture samples. The use of cylindrical samples is a standard practice in creep testing, including cross-weld samples. The constraint effect observed in flat samples are different than those in cylindrical samples. There is a need to establish the effect of specimen shape on creep behaviour assessment and hence the first phase of the PhD project will utilise the 3D DIC techniques to carry out a systematic study to provide data for numerical and analytical models.

The effect of elastic and strength mismatch will be studied on simplified joints manufactured by diffusion bonding and then extended to more complicated welded components. The emphasis of the project will be to develop techniques to fully utilise the vast amount of data on creep deformation obtained by DIC tests for optimising empirical creep models and improving physics based creep behaviour and damage models. For this purpose, novel specimen designs, e.g. samples with tapered or waisted cross sections, will be developed and modelled using inverse methods, including virtual fields method, to extract elasto-plastic constitutive parameters.

There are exciting opportunities to travel, receive professional development, and build enriching relationships and networks within and across cohorts

During the four years, you will undertake cohort-building activities, such as trips to Romania and Norway to undertake experiments, organise an international conference, and receive media, public engagement and entrepreneurship training. Check out our student testimonials, and see what our current cohorts are up at our student-run website www.icocdt.com.

What we do

One of seven global centres of energy research excellence, EDF Energy’s UK R&D operation delivers value for the global business by tackling specific, short term challenges and better equipping us to meet the future. We work to speed the development of innovative digital platforms and smart technology and systems, to support the deployment and management of renewable technologies, such as wind farms, and guarantee the safety and performance of existing sources, such as nuclear plants.

Who we are

Our R&D centre employs over sixty people, with an additional twenty PhD and EngD researchers, across three sites, recognised by government, academia and industry as leading experts in their field. Working at the leading edge of the global energy industry, our people develop new energy solutions for low carbon generation, transport, storage, and customer use.

Why join us

This is a chance to innovate on behalf of our customers, developing sophisticated, real-world tools and processes, kick-starting an exciting and varied career. As well as making an immediate impact on the UK energy business, you could help take us to build new partnerships, strengthening our position in Europe and developing robust low-carbon energy solutions.


These research opportunities give students the chance to develop their academic qualifications whilst gaining industrial experience within EDF Energy’s R&D Teams.

Rewards and benefits

As the students taking up these research positions will be employed by a university, the pay rates and benefits will depend on that offered by the university, and also will change from opportunity to opportunity – so interested students would need to check each individual opportunity to receive further details on the remuneration.


Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK/EU applicants, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (£14,553 for Session 2017-18).

Qualifying students attract an enhanced stipend which could be tax and NI free depending on personal circumstances. For 2016 this was approximately £19,000 tax free per annum. Funding is for four years and also covers University tuition fees, all course fees and a travel allowance to attend courses.

How to Apply: Please refer to the following link for details on how to apply:

Appliation deadline: 1st July 2017. 

Start date: 1st October 2017.

Applications open
Apply now

Applications are now open.