Robinson Research Institute – PhD Scholarship: Energy dissipation in SMES magnet for space applications

Study area(s): Engineering; Science
Scholarship level: Doctoral
Tenure: Three years
Number offered: One
Value: Stipend of $30,000 per annum plus full fees


Due to the harsh environment, long operational timescales, complexity, and required compactness, space platforms require specialised energy storage mechanisms. In many instances the step load profile and large number of discharges constrains application of ion batteries. In such situations auxiliary energy treatment systems are often necessary to correct electric characteristics of the electric systems. SMES, with its high-energy and power densities, could be a potential solution if a correct thermal management system can be provided.

The PhD project will target studies over transient behaviour of superconducting coils for SMES applications.  Activities will be centred around the design analysis and optimisation of the coil, thermal buss and cryogenic system. Special attention will be given to the duty cycle and power loss in HTS coils wound with 2G coated conductors during ramping up and down of the coils within the operating temperature range, using finite element method (FEM). This model will include coupling between temperature and electromagnetic properties of HTS coils due to power loss. The model will be validated by experiments carried out within the liquid nitrogen temperature range. Student will have full access to Robinson’s state-of-the art AC loss measurement system, which will need to be tailored for HTS coils carrying non-sinusoidal current.

This PhD project is part of our space programme funded in Robinson Research Institute. Our institute has set itself to become a leading institute in application of superconducting materials in space technology. We have active research programs in space propulsion, thermal optimisation of small propulsion and design of space qualified magnet technologies for space applications.


The multidisciplinary Robinson Research Institute is internationally recognised for the impact of our applied research into superconductivity and electromagnetic technologies. Our world-leading programmes in materials and engineering deliver globally sought-after graduates and transform tomorrow’s industries.


Applicants should have an engineering or science degree equivalent to the 4-year Honours degree in New Zealand, with 1st class Honours, or an MSc/MEng or postgraduate Diploma with high grades. We are seeking a highly motivated person with an excellent academic record with passion to contribute the cutting-edge technology development.

Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a PhD candidate within the Faculty of Engineering Victoria University of Wellington, and should ensure that they can satisfy the English language requirements.


  • Applicants should have a strong background in electrical engineering or applied physics and experience with working with COMSOL Multiphysics and/or NI LabVIEW would be advantageous.

Application process

Applicants should submit the following documentation to with an email subject line “Experimental and numerical study of energy dissipation in SMES (superconducting magnetic energy storage) magnet for space application”:

  1. A statement of interest
  2. Resume
  3. Academic record

Selection process

The successful recipient will be selected by the Robinson Research Institute Scholarship panel.

Regulations and conditions

Candidates should satisfy the requirements for admission as a Master of Engineering candidate at Victoria University of Wellington. They will also need to sign a Victoria Research Scholarship contract.


Further information can be obtained from Dr Zhenan Jiang: