Applications are now closed. Applications for October 2022 start are expected to open in November 2021. If you would like to be notified when admissions re-open please contact to be added to the mailing list.


Applications 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 below 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. Similarly, candidates are welcome to apply and be put on a mailing list informing them when new projects become available.

Please note also tthat project supervisors may require more specific qualifications and backgrounds to suit the skills and experience needed by the PhD research project. These should be listed on the project descriptions - if not please enquire with the supervisor.

Due to the sensitive nature of the research being carried out, some projects may require you to be a UK national in order to obtain security clearance. International students with a very specific interest should contact the Project Manager in the first instance.

Specific research topics will be agreed with candidates when an offer is made.


Project details

Data-driven residual stress mapping tool using artificial intelligence

Title: Data-driven residual stress mapping tool using artificial intelligence
Description: Manufacturing processes often introduce residual stresses in the fabricated parts. These stresses can cause distortion and cracking, influence function, and potentially reduce a product’s lifetime through premature failure. Management of residual stress has been identified as a focal challenge by experts working in the development and industrialisation of manufacturing processes and design of components for high demand applications. It is of paramount importance the state of residual stress in manufactured parts is reliably characterised and taken into account in structural integrity assessments in particular for safety critical applications in nuclear industry. The proposed PhD project will use data analytics and intelligent algorithms to predict crosssectional maps of residual stress in components of interest based on historical measurement data.
Institution: The Open University
Supervisor(s): Dr Foroogh Hosseinzadeh (OU) , Dr Richard Moat (OU) and Dr Saurabh Kabra (ISIS Facility)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and The Open University

Dynamic fracture testing techniques for alloys

Title: Dynamic fracture testing techniques for alloys
Description: The effect of loading rates is known to affect the mechanical properties of alloys, especially the yield strength and fracture toughness. The aims of this project are to understand the influence of strain rate and sample size/constraint on the fracture toughness of nuclear grade A508 forged steel in addition to Ti-6Al-4V manufactured through laser powder bed fusion. 
Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Paul Hooper (IC), Dr Catrin Davies (IC), Dr Mike Cox (AWE) and Dr Giles Aldrich-Smith (AWE)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and AWE

Multiscale characterisation of creep deformation of materials for fusion reactors

Title: Multiscale characterisation of creep deformation of materials for fusion reactor
Description: Due to the extreme conditions seen in a fusion reactor, material performance is a critical factor in the future production of fusion power plants. Using materials in this environment requires unprecedented understanding of material deformation at high temperatures, under high neutron flux and over long periods of time. As performing material testing that incorporates all of these requirements is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, before building a fusion power plant, this instead leads to a requirement to understand the deformation across all length scales to improve the predicative capacity of material performance models that can link material data from numerous different tests. Materials for fusion are low technology readiness level, novel and only available in small volumes. Therefore, there is a need to extract as much information from a given amount of material as possible. The aim of this project is to work towards doing just that for material behaviour in the creep regime, primarily using Grade 91 steel as a model material for EUROFER 97. This work will utilise the inherent scalability of the image processing technique Digital Image Correlation (DIC) to quantify creep deformation at multiple length scales concurrently on the same sample, using a combination of visible light and electron imaging using a scanning electron microscope (SEM).
Institution: The Open University
Supervisor(s): Dr Alexander Forsey (OU), Dr Salih Gugor (OU) and Dr Allan Harte (CCFE)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC, The Open University and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

Perfecting weld technology for nuclear energy systems using advanced Ni alloys

Title:  Perfecting weld technology for nuclear energy systems using advanced Ni alloys
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

Salt-cooled High-temperature Reactors

Title:  Salt-cooled High-temperature Reactors
Description: Molten salt cooled reactors (also known as Fluoride salt-cooled High-temperature Reactors – FHR) offer a number of significant advantages compared to currently operating LWRs. High temperature operation allows achieving high thermodynamic efficiency of power conversion using advanced power cycles, such as supercritical CO2, as well as a possibility of using nuclear heat directly to drive industrial processes, production of synthetic fuels, such as hydrogen or for district heating of areas located particularly far away from the heat source. Furthermore, high heat capacity of molten salts, their low operating pressure (despite high temperature) and high solubility and retention of otherwise volatile fission products would allow the salt-cooled reactors to avoid complicated and costly safety systems which plague the economics of LWRs. Multiple projects are currently under way around the world aiming at the development of salt-cooled reactors. In the UK further research is required in moderator choice, safety case and fuel cycle options.
Institution: University of Cambridge
Supervisor(s): Dr Eugene Shwageraus (Camb.) and Dr Jean-Marie Hamy (Framatome)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and Framatome

*NOTE - Funding is available for up to two projects from this stream. The candidate will discuss which stream they are interested in should they be invited to a PhD interview. If you have any questions it is highly recommended you contact Dr Eugene Shwageraus in the first instance.