PhD Scholarship, The School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

The School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

We are seeking a PhD student to join the Power Energy Systems Research Group to investigate mechanisms that may lead to the loss of effective silver surface protection, which result in corrosion of transformer's On-Load Tap Change's silver contacts.

The University: Founded in 1909, The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of Australia's leading research and teaching institutions. The Power and Energy Systems (PES) Research Group: The PES group at UQ has 12 academics and more than 25 PhD students. PES group's research activities are centred on: (1) analysis and prediction of the dynamic behaviour of power systems for reliable and secure operations; (2) next generation condition assessment techniques that comprise accurate modelling and interpretative tools for power plant assets; and (3) renewable energy and distributed generation integration to the main power grid.

Information about the Faculty and the School may be accessed on the Faculty's web site at

The Project

In the past, corrosive sulphur has caused transformer failure where it reacted with the copper within the unit, and then the semi-conductive copper sulphide deposits on the cellulosic insulation causing local dielectric failure. This problem can be treated by adding metal passivators to mineral oils to coat the surfaces of the copper within a transformer. Recently, utilities noted that this remedy is not always effective for silver contacts in transformer's on-load tap changers (OLTCs), where corrosive silver sulphide can still form and may eventually lead to OLTC failure. The PhD student will firstly conduct a comprehensive literature survey on why and how the silver is corroded, comparing it to the known copper sulphide problems in transformers. The PhD student will then conduct controlled laboratory experiments to measure the barrier formed by a passivator on the surface of a metal for understanding why passivators are not effective in preventing damage to silver and why certain chemical components of mineral oil attack the silver. On the basis of investigations, the student will produce a technique that the utilities can use to determine OLTCs which are at high risk of silver sulphide and failure.

The Person

Applicants should meet the PhD entry requirements of the UQ graduate school (

Applicants should have a Master degree in Electrical Engineering. A sound electrical insulation background is essential. Knowledge of condition monitoring of high voltage equipment and chemistry would be useful.


This is a full-time PhD position. The candidate will be expected to receive an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or equivalent funding (see from an industry funded project.  The current APA scholarship rate is AUD$26,288 per annum (2016 rate, indexed annually) tax-free for three years, with a possible six month extension in approved circumstances.

Assistance with the application process will be provided. Postgraduate scholarships are awarded competitively, based on merit, to students of exceptional research potential undertaking a research higher degree.  International students will be separately considered for a tuition fee waiver scholarship from the university.

Additionally The University of Queensland also offers the opportunity for paid tutoring for research students. 


To discuss this role please contact Professor Tapan Saha on +61 3365 3962 or email

To submit an application for this role, use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents:

  • A cover letter that addresses you meet the requirements for the PhD program;

  • A curriculum vitae detailing education, professional experience, research experience, publications, and relevant competencies.

For information on completing the application process click here

Reference: 499577