PhD Studentship in In-situ Loading during Irradiation of Materials for Fusion Applications

Manchester, England, gb
Company: The University of Manchester
Category: Architecture and Engineering Occupations
Published on 2021-06-14 18:03:33

Supervisors: Dr Ed Pickering and Dr Philipp Frankel

Collaborator:  United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Based at: The University of Manchester

Open to:  Candidates with a strong degree in a STEM discipline with an interest in computational modelling.

The CDT in Advanced Metallics is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester and the I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Centre, Dublin. CDT students undertake the CDT training programme at all three locations throughout the -year programme.

The conditions materials will experience inside a fusion reactor are severe, combining high temperatures, loads and irradiation. In order to successfully design and construct a commercially-viable fusion reactor, we must have a good understanding of how the materials we use will perform during service. Unfortunately, our understanding of how structural alloys behave in conditions combining heat, load and irradiation is somewhat limited at present, and there in considerable interest in changing this.

This project will aim to develop and utilise new advanced experimental capabilities in order to improve our understanding of the behaviours of alloys in fusion reactors.

The project will combine in-situ mechanical loading during proton and/or ion irradiation at Manchester’s Dalton Cumbrian Facility (DCF) with high resolution characterisation post-irradiation. The project will develop mechanical rig capability on the irradiation beamline and use world-leading facilities for microscopy, microstructural analysis analysis and in-situ High Resolution Digital Image Correlation (HRDIC) as a novel deformation mapping technique.

This will assess the effect of irradiation on material mechanics, providing data to aid in engineering design for STEP. By varying irradiation conditions – dose, temperature and strain rate - it will be possible to demonstrate how the variable irradiation conditions inside a fusion reactor affect material performance and therefore component lifetime.

Previously, the HRDIC technique has proven highly effective in quantifying the differences in deformation between non-irradiated and irradiated zirconium alloys subjected to low damage levels []. Combining this analysis technique with in-situ irradiation-mechanical loading will make a significant contribution to the field and enable a more detailed understanding of the mechanisms of irradiation-induced effects, helping to improve materials – optimising them for fusion – and to validate models of material performance so that the models can be used as predictive tools for the harsh environment of a fusion power plant.

The PhD will be part of UKAEA’s Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme, which has been created to design and construct a prototype fusion energy plant. This PhD project will help inform the assessment of material performance when subjected to the harsh environments typically experienced during the fusion process, feeding into the experimental and modelling activities at UKAEA. Likely candidate materials for application in fusion reactors include martensitic steels, Cu-Cr-Zr alloys and Tungsten alloys. The performance of these materials depends how their mechanical properties are affected by the extreme operating conditions in a fusion reactor, especially the impact of creep and fatigue during the irradiation process.

For more information please contact Dr Ed Pickering ()

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