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Damage Tolerance in Nuclear Graphite and Ceramic Composites under Extreme Conditions

Project Description

Nuclear grade graphite has been one of the key life limiting factors for current UK Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors (AGRs) and is being projected for use in many Gen-IV reactor designs, such as pebble bed and prismatic high temperature reactors (HTRs) internationally. In addition, Ceramic-Matrix Composites (CMCs) is considered to be one of the prime structural materials to replace metals for high temperature applications such as accident tolerant fuel cladding in nuclear reactor core (post Japanese Fukushima accident). However, there is still a lack of understanding in the failure criteria of this class of ceramic-like materials under extreme conditions, for example, at high temperature and post neutron radiation. In this project, you will study the damage tolerance of a range of novel grades of nuclear graphite and CMCs.

You will use X-ray/neutron diffraction, X-ray computed tomography, Raman spectroscopy and micro-mechanical testing to acquire novel insight in the stress-strain behaviour, residual stress evolution and defect development in these materials change with processing parameters and neutron irradiation. Ultimately you will develop a microstructure-based, multiple length-scale failure criteria for these materials during your PhD.

Although nuclear graphite and nuclear CMCs are the primary material for this project, it is anticipated that the techniques will be applied to other nuclear fission and fusion materials such as carbon-carbon composites and MAX phases composites.
Excellent communication skills are essential for this PhD as it involves close interaction with international partners, such as University of California Berkeley, US Idaho National Laboratory, UK Nuclear National Laboratory (NNL), UKAEA Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, EDF Energy and so on.

The knowledge gained in your PhD project will also be shared with colleagues at US FermiLab and UK Rutherford Appleton Laboratory via RaDIATE international collaboration (Radiation Damage In Accelerator Target Environments; to assist the understanding of the degradation in their fine-grained graphite target used in proton accelerator particle sources to enable fundamental particle physics experiments.

Funding Notes

You should have a first or upper second-class (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in Materials, Physics, Chemistry or Engineering and the enthusiasm to work with international partners. This studentship is fully funded for 3.5 years by the University of Bristol. It is available for UK/EU home students; however options also exists for exceptional international students. This project will be supervised by Dr. Dong Liu and Dr. Neil Fox. Enquiries regarding the positions should be sent to Dr. Dong Liu at . Deadline for the applications is 31 April 2019. Anticipated start date for the PhD is late September, 2019.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.15

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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