Module information on this degree can be found below, separated by year of study.

The module information below applies for the current academic year. The academic year runs from August to July; the 'current year' switches over at the end of July.

Students select optional courses subject to rules specified in the Mechanical Engineering Student Handbook,  for example at most three Design and Business courses. Please note that numbers are limited on some optional courses and selection criteria will apply.

Nuclear Materials 1

Module aims

The course will assume students have at least a basic understanding of a reactor system.  The aim is then to develop an appreciation of materials issues associated with nuclear reactor technology and how this information is used when designing reactor systems. A mechanistic description of materials selection for intense radiation fields and the associated degradation mechanisms will be covered for different classes of material with a focus on the specific advantages and disadvantages.  The course will then cover specific cases where materials issues have been crucial to systems performance and a variety of degradation and failure mechanisms as well as the radiation damage processes that brought about these failures.  NB: Although not solely focused on water reactor systems (especially PWR) the course will be aimed at this system

Learning outcomes

Prof R W Grimes

  • Review radiation types, radioactive decay and dose units.
  • Discuss the mechanisms of radiation damage of nuclear materials, the units used to measure damage and the models behind them.
  • Use the Kinchin-Pease Model to predict damage accumulation and its part in general chemical rate theory of radiation damage.
  • Recall the types of fuel and components for the Nuclear Fuel Assembly.
  • Discuss the fuel cycle and fuel fabrication

Dr M Wenman

  • Explain the use of different materials (stainless steels, Ni alloys) used in a PWR primary circuit and the problems and mitigation strategies associated with them.
  • Understand the microstructure and mechanical properties of ferritic steels used for reactor pressure vessels (including welded structures) and the degradation of the steels due to neutron irradiation.
  • Define and explain the terms residual stress, primary stress and secondary stress and how they affect structural integrity assessments of nuclear plant.
  • Use the FAD and Weibull analysis methods to predict failure in nuclear components.
  • Describe the phenomenon of pellet-clad mechanical interactions (PCMI) in PWR and AGR systems, the pellet-clad gap, its closure, heat transfer mechanisms and their roles in PCMI.

Dr B Britton

·         Outline the motivation for zirconium as a cladding in PWR environments

·         Discuss alloying of zirconium for cladding materials, including the presence of microstructure in single phase and dual phase alloys and secondary phase particles (SPPs).

·         Introduce deformation modes in zirconium systems and their impact on crystallographic texture evolution, including crystallographic slip and twinning.

·         Discuss crystallographic texture and its importance in highly engineered systems, including how to measure texture and describe it using pole figures & Kearn’s factors.

·         Introduce ageing and corrosion of zirconium in power plant systems, with a focus on hydrides, oxidation, radiation creep and growth.

·         Discuss engineering decisions for tube fabrication, as well as a simple overview of the benefits and disadvantages of different joining technologies.

Module syllabus

24 lectures

Develop an understanding and appreciation of materials issues associated with nuclear reactor technology and how this information is used when designing reactor systems. A mechanistic description of materials selection for intense radiation fields and the associated degradation mechanisms will be covered for different classes of material with a focus on the specific advantages and disadvantages. Investigation in to specific cases where materials issues have been crucial to systems performance and a variety of degradation and failure mechanisms as well as the radiation damage process that brought about these failures.

Pre-requisites

Prerequesites:   None

Introduction to Nuclear Energy 3rd year Mech Eng course very useful; knowledge of basic materials defects and the concept of microstructure very useful.

Teaching methods

24 lectures: Autumn term

Assessments

Examination

The course is examined in the summer term, and the students answer any 3 of 5 questions. 

 

The pass mark for the MEng cohort is 40% and for the MSc courses is 50%. The module contributes 100 marks of the MEng fourth year, or a core module for MSc/MRes. 

Reading list

Module leaders

Dr Mark Wenman