This is an exciting fully-funded studentship (with a stipend of £18,800 p.a. plus full tuition covered for a 3 year period) under the ‘Cranfield Industrial Partnership PhD Scholarships Scheme’ (CIPPS).

This PhD is designed to investigate a lighter, next generation alternative material to reduce the weight of unloaded stainless-steel disrupters and help improve control and stability performance of the same.

This project is designed to address a key business challenge for the Industrial Partner, Richmond Defence Systems, who have world-class expertise in the design / manufacture of products / solutions for counter IED and EOD applications.

It is anticipated that the PhD would be conducted via a unique, inter-linked and exciting combination of practical experiments and simulations involving scaled firings, use of compressed gas-guns to characterise materials, computational modelling, and microstructural analysis. Facilities across Cranfield’s key sites (Shrivenham, Cranfield and COTEC) would be employed as required.



This project is designed to investigate a lighter, next-generation alternative material to reduce the weight of unloaded stainless-steel disrupters and improve associated control and stability performance. A disrupter is a small cannon that fires water or an inert projectile to separate an IED into its constituent components or remove the fuse from a UXB rendering it inert and safe.

However, such missions are limited by the heavy loads of the EOD disruptor de-armer canons these robots carry. Such devices are typically manufactured in stainless steel – a strong, durable, corrosion and heat resistant, but heavy material. Due to the geometrical structure and large mass of the disruptor de-armer system as an end effector for a robotic arm, the control of the robotic manipulator on the bomb disposal robot can consequently suffers limitations in performance, bandwidth, and stability. The low bandwidth and stability problems result in degraded performance.

The main objectives of this project are: 

  • To identify and understand key initial properties of materials of interest,
  •  Comprehensive characterisation interrogating fundamental quasi-static and dynamic properties of the materials,
  • Numerical simulations to capture material properties and performance in the context of the disruptor utilisation,
  • To employ integrated computational and experimental optimisation of material and geometrical attributes with respect to the disruptor,
  • To improve the performance and control of the disruptor to meet the payload capacity of employed robotic arm actuators across the range of required movement.

Why Cranfield University?

Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS) provide unique educational opportunities to the Defence and security sectors of both public and private sector organisations.

Based at the UK Defence Academy at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire, CDS is the academic provider to the UK Ministry of Defence for postgraduate education at the Defence Academy, training in engineering, science, acquisition, management and leadership.

Unique Selling Points

Whilst working closely with RDS colleagues, publication of literature in open-source journals and travel to UK and overseas conferences will be encouraged with the aim of disseminating key research skills.

The project represents a unique multi-faceted opportunity for the student to build their research skillset.  It will incorporate challenging aspects of employing integrated computational and experimental optimisation of material and geometrical attributes, alongside developing understanding of the wider systems supporting the disruptor (including elements of autonomy). Importantly, close co-operation with the main Industrial sponsor will also help the student to understand how research fits into the wider industrial ecosystem.

What will you Learn?

The application of a lighter, next-generation, alternative will greatly increase the EOD robot’s mobility, reduce power consumption and enhance control and accuracy – thereby improving mission performance (accuracy and precision). In addition, development of such lightweight disruptors will also have a very positive impact on the human factor fatigue element for the EOD operators who has to carry the disruptors in their backpack.

At a glance

  • Application deadline28 Aug 2024
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date07 Oct 2024
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberCDS075

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a minimum of an upper Second Class UK Honours degree or international equivalent in a relevant science or engineering discipline.


This studentship is under the ‘Cranfield Industrial Partnership PhD Scholarships Scheme’ (CIPPS). The duration of the PhD is 3 years. Funding will cover tuition fees and a stipend set at the rate (£18,800 per annum).

How to apply

For information about applications please contact: 

A CV and short cover letter justifying your case to secure the opportunity is required.

If you are eligible to apply for this PhD, please complete the online application form.

Exceptions of registration times only apply to the EPSRC National Productivity Studentships, Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), and iCASE awards where the PhD is specified to take four year full-time study. In such cases students should be registered for 3 years (or four if this is specified) for a full-time PhD.