PhD Student

Last application date
May 15, 2023 00:00
TW08 - Department of Electromechanical, Systems and Metal Engineering
Limited duration
Master degree in Mechanical Engineering or equivalent
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

Context –51% of electric motor failures are caused by bearing failure according to [Tong2014, Xie2020]. About 9% of such bearing failures are attributed to harmful electrical bearing currents. Recently introduced SiC or GaN power electronic switches can realize extremely fast switching, inducing electric bearing currents. Such currents are most prevalent for high-power applications where the conversion from electrical to mechanical energy (e.g. vehicles, air compressors) or vice versa (e.g. a wind turbine) needs to be as performant and efficient as possible. This results in a growing need for integrators of electrical drivetrains and manufacturers of electric drivetrain components to know the impact of the power inverter on potential bearing damage.
UGent initiated, in close collaboration with Flanders-Make and KULeuven, the research project EBearDam. The aim of this project is to construct a computational toolset that allows to assess the severity of bearing currents in a drivetrain and to evaluate the effectiveness of software or hardware-based countermeasures. One of the key tasks in this project involves multi-physics modelling of bearing currents and electric discharges through the lubricated roller-raceway contacts (Thermo-elastohydrodynamic lubrication) and the initiation of electrical pitting/fluting damage. The final goal is to build up fundamental knowledge of influential parameters and connect them to the expected severity of electrically induced damage.

Positions & Tasks - The envisioned PhD focuses on accurate and reliable 3D Thermo-Elastohydrodynamic lubrication modelling, involving precise constitutive modelling of relevant thermomechanical and electrical properties, for rolling contacts. It builds upon existing CFD-FSI models constructed in the open-source software OpenFOAM. The existing models need to be further developed by implementing electrostatic/electrodynamic equations. The model will be used to analyse the effects of electrical currents and discharges on the lubricant film and vice versa, as well as to determine a metric for the severity of the initial discharge damage.

Job profile

1. You hold a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering or equivalent.
2. You have a strong motivation for conducting scientific research at a high level.
3. You possess good analytical and technical skills
4. You are interested in computational mathematics and High-Performance Scientific Computing.
5. You have an affinity with Tribology.
6. You have profound knowledge of Computational Fluid Dynamics and OpenFOAM
7. Experience with Electromagnetic Simulation is an asset.
8. Experience with programming in C++ and Python, is an asset.
9. You take responsibility for the development of your project in a well-structured, thorough way, and you’re able to solve problems independently. You display creativity in solving problems, generating ideas or finding new ways of working.
10. You have an open personality and are willing to contribute to the team and participate in didactic projects.
11. You have excellent communication skills in English, both oral and written. Knowledge of Dutch is certainly an asset.


1. The EBearDam project starts on September 1st, 2023.
2. We offer a full-time research position for 48 months (4 years). After a probation period of 12 months, a fixed-term contract
will be offered for the remaining period on condition of positive evaluation.
3. The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students at UGent.
4. The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval. The successful candidate will be enrolled in the
doctoral program of Ghent University (

How to apply

To apply for one of these positions, please complete the corresponding application form below before May 15th, 2023. Your application will be taken into consideration on the condition that all fields in the application form are completed properly.