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2023.09
phd project

Understanding and improving ice properties for sports and sustainability

In ice-related sports the properties of the ice have a great influence on the results achieved. The composition of the water, humidity and temperature are of major influence and is currently mostly tribal knowledge, that is often unwritten and in the heads of the ice experts of a sports facility. Making steps towards a more scientific foundation is desirable. A famous ice-skating stadium is Thialf in Heerenveen, which is a center of excellence when it comes to speed skating. With the help of Wetsus, an expertise center on water technology, Thialf also wants to become a knowledge center of ice surfaces for skating. With a scientific approach and the best ice-resurfacing team, the goal is to create tailor-made ice based on the demands of different sport disciplines, while minimizing overall energy consumption. Main properties of the ice for speed skaters are grip, hardness, and friction.

Research challenges
Thialf has the aspiration to optimize the ice properties, while minimizing energy consumption in the process towards tailor-made ice surfaces for different skating disciplines. Together with Wetsus this project describes a scientific approach towards this goal, using the knowledge of water treatment and water properties. The general problem statement focuses on how an Ice floor is made and what the effects are on skating speed in different disciplines like long track and short track speed skating. Macroscopic properties (e.g. grip, hardness and gliding resistance) will be related to microscopic ones (e.g. chemical and physical composition of the top layer and lower layers, crystal size and orientation).

Your assignment
To investigate the effect of stadium conditions on the ice, you will develop a practical setup that can simulate several conditions as they occur in the stadium. The setup will be so that conditions can easily be changed, and their effect on the ice can be well studied. You will investigate properties like hardness, friction and gliding resistance with this setup. You will compare and investigate stadium ice and the experimentally made ice from the simulation setup in the Wetsus laboratory physically (e.g. hardness and friction), optically (e.g. microscopy, polariscopy, spectroscopically…) and chemically (e.g. ion content, organic content, particle content).

Your profile
The candidate must hold an MSc degree in Physics, Engineering or Physical Chemistry and have an interest in understanding the physics and chemistry of water, ice and ice skating. The candidate should have a good understanding and knowledge of natural sciences.  An innovative and multi-disciplinary attitude is required. Fluent in spoken and written English, and able to work in multi-disciplinary and international teams. Experience with laboratory and analytical work in both physics and (wet-)chemistry is required.

Keywords: ice, skating, friction, gliding

Supervisory team: Prof. Dr. Daniel Bonn (University of Amsterdam), Dr. Elmar Fuchs (Wetsus), Dr. Doekle Yntema (Wetsus); The project is to be run in close collaboration with the ice-masters and the innovation manager in Thialf to ensure the practical relevance of the research project for skating.

Project partners: Applied Water Physics theme

Only applications that are complete, in English, and submitted via the application webpage before the deadline will be considered eligible.

Guidelines for applicants:  https://phdpositionswetsus.eu/guide-for-applicants/