Applications are now closed for 2020/21. Please check back again for an update on when admissions re-open for 2021/22. If you would like to be notified when admission re-open, please contact j.tate@imperial.ac.uk and provide your name and e-mail address.

 

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 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

Characterising TRISO particles and compacts for nuclear fission applications

Title: Characterising TRISO particles and compacts for nuclear fission applications
Description: Tristructural isotropic (TRISO) coated nuclear fuel particles have been used in many different reactors such as Thorium High-Temperature Reactors (Germany), HTR-10 (China), the High Temperature Test Reactors (Japan) and Xe-100 (USA). TRISO is also the fuel form of choice for some designs of the next generation high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) and very-high-temperature reactors (VHTRs). Despite its international importance, there many aspects of the TRISO fuels remain unknown: therefore, it is now essential to extend the UK expertise in TRISO fuel design, manufacturing and validation. This project will contribute to this national endeavour. It will involve the use of a large range of experimental techniques to characterise the residual stresses, local mechanical and thermal properties in the TRISO particles.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Dr Dong (Lilly) Liu (UoB) and Dr David Goddard (NNL)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and National Nuclear Laboratory

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

Correct microstructural aberrations in neutron diffraction strain measurements

Title: Correct microstructural aberrations in neutron diffraction strain measurements
Description: Residual stress characterisation is an essential aspect of structural integrity assesment. Conducting residual stress characterisation using the neutron diffraction technique is very desirable; however, the complex structures present in nuclear power plant components make this process fraught with errors. Here the proposed project will use Monte Carlo ray tracing simulations of the neutron diffraction technique to predict the errors induced by typical microstructural features present in power plant components, such as welds and cladding.
Institution: The Open University
Supervisor(s): Dr Richard Moat (OU), Dr Salih Gungor (OU) and Dr Joe Kelleher (STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)
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

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

 

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

This project is only available to UK nationals.

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

High-fidelity modelling of clad ballooning during a loss-of-coolant accident

Title: High-fidelity modelling of clad ballooning during a loss-of-coolant accident
Description: The loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) is generally the limiting design-basis accident in a Light Water Reactor (LWR). In the event of such an accident, the fission chain reaction is automatically shutdown, however there remains ‘decay heat’ generation, perhaps 7% of operating power, for some hours following the accident. A major focus of the reactor safety case is therefore to ensure that the consequences of a LOCA are manageable. To do so, we must understand and model both the complex mechanical behaviour of the fuel and outer cladding, and the coolant flow over the fuel pins. Indeed, these effects are strongly interdependent. The aim is to develop a state-of-the-art computer code system to predict the 3-D clad ballooning behaviour of rods in a LWR fuel bundle during a LOCA.
Institution: Imperial College London
Supervisor(s): Dr Michael Bluck (IC) and Dr Mark Wenman (IC)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and National Nuclear Laboratory

Please note that this project is available to CDT applicants as an associated student. For more information and how to apply please visit http://www.imperial.ac.uk/nuclear-engineering/courses/phd-nuclear/phd-opportunities-in-the-cne/

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 damage in ferritic/martensitic materials

Title: Simulation and validation of damage in ferritic/martensitic materials
Description: Ferritic/martensitic steels show very good resistance against radiation damage and thus have been used in the nuclear fission industry for a long time and are alterative candidates to be used in structural components of future fusion reactors. Their microstructure is complex which makes the simulation of their behaviour under extreme conditions time-consuming. However, recent developments in computational power and parallelised GPU calculations have made detailed simulation of such materials through cutting edge modelling techniques such as crystal plasticity finite element modelling possible. In this project you will be working with a team of researchers  to develop simulation techniques that are capable of modelling mechanical failure of ferritic/martensitic materials.
Institution: University of Bristol
Supervisor(s): Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi (UoB) and Dr Ghiath Monnet (EdF Energy)
Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EdF Energy