Unique research for BU and Tank Museum

A three-year research project to help preserve the world’s most historically significant collection of military vehicles will get underway later this year.

Working in partnership, Bournemouth University (BU) and The Tank Museum at Bovington, Dorset, have created a joint PhD research opportunity to investigate the Sustainable Methodology of Conserving Historic Vehicles.

The Tank Museum holds the most important collection of its kind in the world with almost 300 historic armoured vehicles under its care. The collection boasts a number of unique and important vehicles from the 100 year history of the tank; including the world’s first ever tank and a number of others maintained in running order for public displays.

The research will be guided by senior academic Dr Zulfiqar Khan from BU’s Sustainable Design Research Centre, in the School of Design, Engineering & Computing. His team aim to understand and improve tank preservation techniques and strategies by learning about how tank engines run after extensive periods of non-usage, how ageing affects the structure of tanks, and how much it costs to run such historic vehicles.

Dr Khan said: “The interesting aspects of this PhD project with the Tank Museum are the requirements to run and operate large and heavy vehicles after periods of non-use in various humidity and temperature environments. Starting engines after long periods of disuse provides a particular challenge in terms of tribological aspects of moving lubricated components.

“In addition the tank structure is subject to stresses due to suspension and material aging and misalignment. Concentrated residual stress, corrosion, stress corrosion cracking and fatigue stress within the structure need to be considered in balance with economical and sustainable aspects. In addition, an ethics dimension needs to be addressed in terms of the assessment of replacement artefact replicas and originals for these museum vehicles.

“This project is of mutual benefit and provides a world-class opportunity for a high-calibre doctoral researcher to be involved in a unique and high-profile piece of research.”

Richard Smith, Director of The Tank Museum said: “This is a tremendously exciting project that will apply academic expertise to a unique set of vehicles and ensure that they can be preserved for generations to come.”

Professor Mark Hadfield, Head of Research & Enterprise in BU’s School of Design, Engineering & Computing explained the uniqueness of the partnership.

“This PhD forms one of four doctoral research posts co-sponsored by education (BU) and industry (Tank Museum) – an innovative approach to funding for this level of academic study within the higher education sector. We are delighted to be working with an organisation of the Tank Museum’s standing.”