Research project

Modeling Cathode Assembly over its Lifetime Considering Creeping, Diffusion, Erosion


Canada is one of the largest producers of aluminum in the world. In fact, aluminium production is one of the main industries in Quebec. In electrolysis cells, a strong current passes between the anodes and the cathodes. The cathode assembly is made of a carbon block and steel bars. About 10% of the energy losses occur in the cathode. Moreover, the cathode erodes over time, which is one of the main causes leading to the end of life of a cell. In this project, we want to develop a 3D thermo-electro-mechanical (TEM) finite element model to simulate the whole life of a cathode and optimize its design. In addition, experimental tests will allow to characterize the behavior of materials at high temperatures, such as those found in practice in the smelter. In the end, the project will help to enhance the energy performance and the lifetime of electrolytic cells.

Research Field

- Primary production of aluminum
- Modeling
- Finite elements
- Deformation
- Heat transfer
- Creep
- Erosion
- Species diffusion
- Optimization

Research Supervisor

Louis Gosselin

Research Environment

REGAL - Aluminium Research Centre, Université Laval

Université Laval is a pole of expertise on the primary production of aluminum, involving many professors, research assistants and students who are members of REGAL ( In close partnership with the industry, our dynamic team aims to better understand and to improve the various processes used in smelters through experimental work, modeling and data processing.

Web Site

Financial Aid Available by Program of Study

Doctorate in Merchanical Engineering

Program description

Financial Aid Available*

Financial Aid Related to Research Project

$27000 per year for 4 years.

Funding for this project is provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada and by Alcoa.

Program-Specific Financial Aid

Graduate Studies Awards

Milestone Amount
Progression scholarship
7 x $500
Doctoral exam or seminar presentation
Doctoral exam, seminar or conference
First submission of dissertation
Total $8,500

*A $500 bonus will be added to the graduation scholarship if the initial submission is made before the semester preceding the final qualifying semester.

Université Laval: Student Financial Aid

Funding source Amount
Leadership and Comittment Scholarship (Canadians & permanent residents)
Citizens of the World Scholarship (International students) $30,000
Mobility Grant for Out-of-Province Internships or Research Visits (in French)
$1,000 to $2,000
Graduate Scholarships from Granting Agencies   
$20,000 to $70,000$
Online Directory of Graduate Scholarships (in French)
$500 to $50,000

Supplemental Tuition Fee Exemption Scholarship Program: Entitles international students to pay Canadian student tuition fees, for overall savings of around $40,000. If you are benefiting of this scholarship program, the doctoral admission scholarship will go toward paying your supplemental tuition fees. You will not receive the $2,000 scholarship amount directly; rather it will be applied over your first two semesters to the supplemental portion of your tuition fees.

* Amounts shown represent maximum financial aid available. Certain conditions apply. Subject to change without prior notice. For further information, contact sponsoring organizations directly.

Desired Profile

- Mineral, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineering
- Civil and Water Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Physics Engineering

Requirements and Conditions

- To have maintained a minimum GPA of B (or equivalent) for both the undergraduate and master's degrees
- To have a strong interest in research on industrial problems, such as those presented in the project description
- To have an excellent ability to speak and write in French and/or English

Required Documentation

- Cover letter
- Curriculum vitæ
- Student transcript
Send all your documents into a single email at the following address: Indicate clearly in the subject of the email the number or the title of the project for which you want to be considered. Thanks!

Find Out More

Louis Gosselin
Département de génie mécanique