Oxford University doctoral candidates hosted at Elkem Fiskaa

Oxford interns at fiskaa

As company partner of the well-renowned Oxford University’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Industrially Focused Mathematical Modelling (InFoMM), Elkem has hosted two PhD students for a 10-week visit to Elkem Fiskaa in Kristiansand. After the visit, one student decided to use the opportunity at Elkem for his complete doctoral study.

This summer, Elkem Technology in Kristiansand had an inspirational visit from two PhD students, Ben Sloman and Graham Benham, from the highly prestigious Mathematical Institute at Oxford University. Both study at Centre for Doctoral Training in Industrially Focused Mathematical Modelling (InFoMM). Elkem is, together with actors like Sharp, IBM and Oxford Instruments, a company partner of InFoMM.

To Elkem the experience of having two PhD students from Oxford involved in our innovation and improvement work is of high value. We strive to build good relations between academia and business, and this is one example of many.


Great output in few weeks

Ben’s project was titled, Modelling the inner structure of a Silicon furnace. The aim was to build on existing models and extend them to include important parameters like heat transfer and physical movements, which are not satisfactory described in current silicon furnace models.

Graham’s project was related to the new thin cast concept, and was named, Modelling solidification of silicon. In order to understand this concept, there has been developed pilot-scale experimental casting simulators. Graham was given the task to model the heat transfer and temperature profile in the casting simulator process. Graham has already completed two scientific papers based on his modelling results that will be submitted to mathematical journals.

The internship ended with a presentation of their projects and the particulate findings. In conclusion, an impressive amount of work had been carried out in just the ten weeks. Their approaches to solve the modelling problems were both elegant and efficient, and should be applicable to a range of other problems in Elkem that can be described mathematically.     

Ben decided to extend his project to cover his full doctoral study, which means he will be visiting us frequently also in the future. Elkem will benefit greatly from his work, and we look forward to be seeing him again.


Close follow up

Ben was primarily supervised by Rolf Birkeland and Harald Wegge, and Graham was primarily supervised by Kjetil Hildal, all from the department of Process Development in Elkem. In addition, both projects were senior supervised by Process Development director Aasgeir Valderhaug, Senior researcher Svenn Anton Halvorsen from Teknova and Professor Colin Please and Dr Robert Van Gorder from the Mathematical Institute at Oxford.

Both Graham and Ben fitted well in with the researchers at Fiskaa, and we were very glad to have them here for the ten weeks. Several took care to help them around in Kristiansand and invite them to spare-time activities.

Graham chose to seek another project for his doctoral study, in an interesting topic on low-head hydropower. We wish him the best of luck with his future studies. Another student, Ferran Brosa Planella, will continue Grahams work on solidification and casting as his doctoral project.

If you are interested in more information on the specific projects or the InFoMM programme, please contact Aasgeir Valderhaug on +47 91 32 46 62.


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