PhD position in Mechanical Engineering (Modelling of initiation and propagation of white etching cracks (WEC) in roller bearings)

Last application date
Feb 28, 2018 22:59
TW08 - Department of Electrical Energy, Metals, Mechanical Constructions and Systems
Limited duration
Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

In collaboration with Free University Brussels (VUB; project coordinator), SIRRIS and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL; USA)), Ghent University (UGent) has originated a project that aims to provide the wind energy value chain players with an improved understanding, prediction and monitoring of white etching cracking (WEC) in wind turbine drivetrain bearings.

The project is backed by an impressive industrial advisory board covering near to the entire windmill value chain. Starting from the level of material microstructure and supported by numerical damage modelling and in-the-field measuring campaigns, material based Probability of Failure (MB-PoF) predictions are envisaged to lead to better operation (less failures) and improved maintenance strategies. In total, four vacancies for PhD researchers are released for this project, each of which will have a duration of four years. On of these will develop a multi-physics based approach to model the hypothesized WEC initiation and growth mechanism.

The presented vacancy relates to this aspect of the project, supervised by Prof. Stijn Hertelé () and Wim De Waele () at the Fracture Mechanics research group of Soete Laboratory, UGent. The overall aim of the envisaged PhD work is to develop a numerical model that describes WEC initiation and propagation to failure. The model should be capable to predict the probability of failure at a given lifetime (or vice versa), starting from the loading and environmental conditions acting on a bearing. This aim is subdivided into four distinct objectives:

  • Development of a load based rolling contact fatigue RCF model.
  • Implementation of the most likely mechanism to WEC into the RCF model
  • Validating predictions of WEC formation and its associated lifetime reduction, based on experimental data.
  • Combining the numerical model with monitoring techniques for the development of a “Material Based Probability of Failure” concept (task led by VUB).

More information can be found at :

Profile of the candidate

  • you have a strong motivation for (and preferably a history of) conducting scientific research and working with complex questions;
  • your expertise resides in mechanical engineering, but you additionally have experience and interest in material science.
  • you possess structured and creative problem-solving abilities;
  • you possess strong analytical and technical skills and take responsibility for the development of your work;
  • you can work independently as well as in team;
  • you have excellent English communication skills (written and presentation);
  • knowledge of damage and fracture mechanics is an advantage;
  • experience with computational mechanics is a prerequisite;
  • experience with programming in Python or Matlab is a clear advantage;
  •  experience with experimental work is an advantage;
  • knowledge of Dutch is a plus.

How to apply

The application form (See Research)) should be sent in pdf format to Prof. Stijn Hertelé (), including:

  • CV;
  • an official record of transcripts (bachelor and master are required) and a copy of degree certificate;
  • a brief motivation letter, showing why the applicant wishes to engage in the scientific research;
  • two or more references.

For further information on the vacancy and/or how to apply, contact Prof. Stijn Hertelé ().