BelgiumApplications are invited from candidates who have an interest in the PhD projects listed below.

The list of projects available is not exhaustive, although the projects listed have preference: they have funding agreed and are available immediately.

Applicants who cannot find a suitable project listed should discuss their preference with the CDT admissions panel; although we will do our best, there is no guarantee we can find an appropriate supervisor or funding. Specific research topics will be agreed with candidates when an offer is made.

 


Project details

Advanced materials for challenging isotope separations

Title: Advanced materials for challenging isotope separations
Description: Deuterium (D), as a stable heavy isotope of hydrogen, plays an essential role in nuclear energy production, for example, in heavy water neutron moderators in current nuclear fission reactors. However, as D is only found naturally as a dilute mixture with the more common, lighter hydrogen isotope, protium (H), efficient methods for H/D separation are required if nuclear energy is to become more widely adopted. This project is aimed at exploring the mechanisms around challenging gas separations using adsorptive separation in highly porous materials such as zeolites and metal-organic frameworks or porous organic cages.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Dr Valeska Ting (UoB) and Dr Tim Johnson (Johnson Matthey)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Johnson Matthey

An investigation of corrosion and leaching of carbide fuels in a geological disposal facility setting

Title: An investigation of corrosion and leaching of carbide fuels
Description: Uranium carbide (UC) is considered an exotic fuel material which has arisen from the UK’s civil nuclear reactor test programme. Geological disposal is internationally recognised as the safest long-term solution for higher activity radioactive wastes and the UK’s exotic spent fuels  are intended to be managed in this way. The current PhD project will investigate corrosion and leaching behaviour of irradiated and unirradiated carbide spent fuel under conditions analogous to a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) both (i) pre-closure and (ii) post-closure. The student will use cutting edge materials analysis techniques to provide a nano to micro to millimetre scale observation of carbide corrosion behaviour. Techniques will include X-ray tomography (XRT), high-speed atomic force microscopy, secondary ion mass spectrometry, high-resolution electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Prof Tom Scott (UoB)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Radioactive Waste Management Ltd.

Analysis and interpretation of creep-fatigue crack growth behaviour

Title:  Analysis and interpretation of creep-fatigue crack growth behaviour
Description:
Life extension of the UK’s advanced gas cooled reactors (AGRs) is dependent on the assurance of the safety of their structural components. As many AGR components operate in the creep range, it is important to understand and to be able to predict creep and creep-fatigue crack growth for real or postulated defects in these components.The main aim of this work is to develop improved methods for interpreting crack growth data in creep-fatigue tests for situations where cracking is discontinuous. This will be achieved by using a combination of novel experimental techniques and study methods.
Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Catrin Davies (ICL), Dr Joe Corcoran (ICL), Prof Karam Nikbin (ICL), Prof David Dean (EdF Energy) and Dr Daniel Hughes (EdF Energy)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EdF Energy

Analysis of creep-fatigue crack growth behaviour in W-Eurofer97 brazed joints

Title: Analysis of creep-fatigue crack growth behaviour in W-Eurofer97 brazed joints
Description:Brazing is the promising technique to join Tungsten (W) to Eurofer97 for manufacturing the first wall component of the demonstration fusion reactor (DEMO). However, the residual stress and defects inherited from the brazing can deteriorate the mechanical performance of the first wall significantly.The purpose of this project is to analyse creep-fatigue crack growth behaviour in W-Eurofer97 brazed joints using both experimental and numerical simulation approaches. The outcome of this project will provide a significant contribution to the ultimate objective of performing an improved design as well as structure integrity assessment of the DEMO fusion power plant.
Institution: Imperial College
Supervisor(s): Dr Catrin Davies (IC) and Dr Yiqiang Wang (UKAEA)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Constraint effects on creep crack growth behaviour in 316H stainless steel

Title: Constraint effects on creep crack growth behaviour in 316H stainless steel
Description:
Life extension of the UK’s advanced gas cooled reactors (AGRs) is dependent on the assurance of the safety of their structural components. As many AGR components operate in the creep range, it is important to understand and to be able to predict creep and creep-fatigue crack growth for real or postulated defects in these components. The main aim of this work is to investigate the effects of constraint (in-plane and out-of-plane) on creep crack growth in 316H steel at 550°C, with particular emphasis on developing an improved understanding of crack growth behaviour in thin section components.
Institution: Imperial College
Supervisor(s): Dr Catrin Davies (ICL), Prof Karam Nikbin (ICL), Prof David Dean (EdF Energy) and Dr Daniel Hughes (EdF Energy)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EdF Energy

Environmental effects on creep crack growth behaviour

Title:  Environmental effects on creep crack growth behaviour
Description: Life extension of the UK’s advanced gas cooled reactors (AGRs) is dependent on the assurance of the safety of their structural components. As many AGR components operate in the creep range, it is important to understand and to be able to predict creep and creep-fatigue crack growth for real or postulated defects in these components. The aim of this project is to investigate the creep crack growth behaviour of Type 316H steel in both a pressurised simulated AGR CO2 environment and an inert environment or vacuum to discover the significance of any environmental contributions to creep crack growth in both a laboratory air environment and a pressurised simulated AGR CO2 environment.
Institution: Imperial College
Supervisor(s): Dr Catrin Davies (ICL), Prof Karam Nikbin (ICL), Prof David Dean (EdF Energy) and Dr Daniel Hughes (EdF Energy)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EdF Energy

 

Fast efficient microstructural modelling of hydride reorientation in fuel‌

Title: Fast efficient microstructural modelling of hydride reorientation in fuel
Description: A mechanistic understanding of hydrogen diffusion and hydride precipitation underpins the prediction of delayed hydride cracking (DHC) in zirconium alloy nuclear fuel cladding. DHC presents a problem to service life of nuclear fuel pins and integrity of pins in waste storage. This project builds upon a previous study to use analytical stress fields, in combination with discrete dislocations, to model a millimetre scale area but with single micron accuracy, including grain orientation effects, but in seconds rather than hours (as per state-of-the-art phase field models).
Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Mark Wenman (IC) and Dr Daniel Balint (IC)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Rolls-Royce Plc

High performance radiation transport methods with ray effect mitigation

Title: High performance radiation transport methods with ray effect mitigation
Description:
The aim of this PhD project is to develop novel numerical algorithms on modern, multi-core and many-core, high performance distributed computing (HPC) architectures for radiation shielding analyses of small modular reactors (SMRs) such as the steam raising nuclear power plants (NPPs) of nuclear submarines or the new Rolls-Royce, civil nuclear, SMR concept. The successful candidate will join, and be supported by, a vibrant and dynamic group with world class expertise in the numerical modelling of radiation transport and multiphysics phenomena for nuclear engineering. They will be trained in the latest state-of-the-art numericalmethods for simulating radiation transport in nuclear reactor cores, parallel high performance computing (HPC) techniques, object oriented programming, and scalable solvers as well as trained in the use of the industrial reactor shielding software for verification and validation (V&V) purposes.
Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Matt Eaton (ICL)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Rolls-Royce

High temperature digital image correlation of small punch test

Title: High temperature digital image correlation of small punch test
Description: Creep damage is the principal life limiting factor in the life of a thermal plant. Materials behaviour in creep regime is evaluated using uniaxial tests. However, the majority of components experience a multi-axial stress state. Stress multi-axiality can have a significant effect on the rate of initiation and growth of creep cavities. This project is aimed at designing, optimising, and eventually exploiting optical techniques for creep study of small punch tests.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Dr Harry Coules (UoB) and Dr Yiqiang Wang (UKAEA)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Micromechanical understanding of solder materials in nuclear reactor systems

Title:  Micromechanical understanding of solder materials in nuclear reactor systems
Description: Tin based solders are widely used in consumer electronics and have replaced lead-based solders. In safety critical systems such as nuclear reactors, lead based solders are being phased out and the reliability of tin based systems is of increasing importance. In this project, you will work with a substantive team of researchers to understand the microstructural influence on the mechanical properties in high rate and “high temperature” environments (tin as at ~0.6 of its melting temperature at room temperature) using state-of-the-art in situ experimental methods and microstructural characterisation using techniques such as micropillar testing, creep, and in situ scanning electron microscopy involving electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD).
Institution: Imperial College
Supervisor(s): Dr Ben Britton (ICL)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Rolls-Royce Plc

Modelling of SiC/SiC composites for accident tolerant nuclear fuel

Title: Modelling of SiC/SiC composites for accident tolerant nuclear fuel
Description:
Silicon carbide composites (silicon carbide matrix with silicon carbide fibres) are proposed as a next generation cladding material because they avoid the problem of in-service hydrogen pickup and, under accident conditions, the highly exothermic reaction created between steam and zirconium alloys.  However, manufacturing the composite in an efficient manner to produce cost effective fuel cladding  needs significant research. The aim is to develop a microscale material model to study a variety of interfacial fibre/matrix strengths and fibre weaves orientations to discover the best combinations for manufacture and testing. 
Institution: Imperial College
Supervisor(s): Dr Mark Wenman (ICL), Glyn Rossiter (NNL), Daniel Shepherd (NNL) and David Goddard (NNL)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and National Nuclear Laboratory

Next generation fluid flow solver for nuclear reactors

Title: Next generation fluid flow solver for nuclear reactors
Description: The aim of this project is to develop a fast-running finite volume porous medium flow solver that that can perform analyses of flow in nuclear reactor cores. We are interested in flow in the primary system, sub-channel flow and detailed flow patterns as found in the lower or upper head. The solver will be developed using Imperial College’s Devito technology for the automatic generation of finite difference solvers from the differential equations and associated boundary and initial conditions.
Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Prof Chris Pain (IC), Dr Gerard Gorman (IC) and Prof Paul Smith (Wood Plc)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Wood Plc

Perfecting weld technology for nuclear energy systems using advanced Ni alloys

Title:  Perfecting weld technology for nuclear energy systems using advanced Ni alloys
Description:
Nuclear power plant systems comprise hundreds of kilometres of pipework joined by thousands of welds. For efficient harnessing of nuclear energy, dissimilar metals have to be joined by welding, that is mainly austenitic stainless steel to ferritic-martensitic steels which have significantly different thermo-physical properties. A Nickel based weld filler, Alloy 52, is increasingly being used to construct such dissimilar metal welds (DMWs) in water cooled nuclear power plants across the globe to mitigate historic susceptibility of DMWs to stress corrosion cracking (which has compromised plant safety). However, Alloy 52 is prone to the occurrence of ductility-dip cracking (DDC) during welding (in the temperature range 750 to 1000 oC). The innovative idea behind this project is to study the development of DDC “in-situ” during a “Programmed Deformation Test” and elucidate the fundamental mechanisms and controlling conditions.
Institution: The Open University
Supervisor(s): Prof John Bouchard (OU), Dr Richard Moat (OU), Dr Joe Kelleher (ISIS Facility) and Dr Miguel Yescas (Framatome)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Framatome

Plasticity-induced damage in high temperature reactors

Title: Plasticity-induced damage in high temperature reactors
Description: Creep damage is the principal life limiting factor in the life of a thermal plant. In a plant the damage accumulates over decades but to study creep damage root-cause and effects in reasonable timescale, short term experimental testing (creep acceleration) is required. The project will employ advanced experimental techniques such as digital image correlation, electron backscattered diffraction and synchrotron X-ray diffraction. These will be combined with state-of-the-art modelling, including crystal plasticity finite element analysis.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Prof David Knowles (UoB) and Dr Marc Chevalier (EdF Energy)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EdF Energy

Simulation and experimental validation of creep–fatigue interaction

Title: Simulation and experimental validation of creep–fatigue interaction
Description: Capitalising on the knowledge and expertise of long-term operation of high temperature reactors, the UK is well positioned to lead international efforts to design and build the high temperature components of a fusion reactor. However, the loading profile of a fusion reactor is different from that of a fission reactor. While a fission reactor experiences only a few hundred major cycles with long dwells in its lifetime, a fusion reactor is expected to see thousands of cycles a year. This will make the damage mechanism from which fusion reactor components suffer unique. This project is aimed at simulating this creep fatigue interaction using finite element modelling and validating the model using advanced experimental techniques.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi (UoB) and Dr Mike Gorley (UKAEA)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Superplastic forming and diffusion bonding key parts of future fusion reactors

Title: Superplastic forming and diffusion bonding key parts of future fusion reactors
Description: With the recent advances of fusion reactor research, there is increasing interest in extending the applications of Superplastic Forming/Diffusion Bonding technology to stainless steel, nickel based superalloys and grade 91 alloy steel which are being considered candidate materials for the key fusion reactor components, such as heat exchanger where complex internal cooling channels are needed.However little is known about their feasibility of superplasticity and diffusion bonding ability. In particular, it is generally accepted that the diffusivity of Ni-Ni, stainless steel-stainless steel is very slow due to the presence of stable oxide layers, formed on the free surfaces. This research aims to study the feasibility of SPF/DB of these three candidate materials and provide the understanding of how to optimize the  process for components design.
Institution: Imperial College
Supervisor(s): Dr Jiang Jun  (IC) and Dr Prof Jianguo Lin  (IC)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Using artificial intelligence to predict and validate nuclear data

Title: Using artificial intelligence to predict and validate nuclear data
Description: Nuclear data, such as cross sections and reaction products, underpins all of nuclear science and technology. Even the most complex and concisely written nuclear data analysis tools can be unreliable and untrustworthy if they use old or un-benchmarked nuclear data. Common problems encountered in nuclear data are missing and conflicting data and large and untrustworthy uncertainties. The best way to tackle these problems is via targeted experiments. However, nuclear data experiments are complex, expensive and the lifecycle time to plan, perform and analyse the results is relatively long.  Hence, the current approach involves the use of statistics and theory in conjunction with experiments. To date, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in the field of nuclear data evaluation has not been fully explored. Hence, this project aims to explore whether or not it would be advantageous to use AI/ML in conjunction with other nuclear data evaluation methods to assist and enhance the evaluation process.
Institution: University of Cambridge
Supervisor(s): Dr Eugene Shwageraus (Cambs) and Dr Lee Morgan (AWE)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and AWE

Welded joints behaviour in high temperature reactors

Title: Welded joints behaviour in high temperature reactors
Description: Welded joints are one of most safety critical locations in a reactor structure. They are often prone to damage after decades of operation and can be considered to be one of the life-limiting factors in the UK’s advanced gas cooled reactors. This is because of the complexities involved in a weld including the residuals stress, varying microstructure and their complicated geometry. The aim of this project is to identify the criticality of the stress concentration created at the interface of a welded joint through advanced experimental techniques such as Digital Image Correlation and synchrotron X-ray diffraction.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Prof Chris Truman (UoB) and Prof David Dean (EdF Energy)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EdF Energy