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  Evolution of nanostructure and properties in nuclear graphite with irradiation damage

   School of Physics

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  Dr Dong Liu, Prof M Kuball  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Evolution of nanostructure and properties in nuclear graphite with irradiation damage

Supervisors: Dr. Dong (Lilly) Liu (UoB), Prof. Martin Kuball (UoB) and Kavin Ammigan (US FermiLab) Frederique Pellemoine (US FermiLab); Email: [Email Address Removed]

Nuclear-grade graphite is becoming increasingly important in nuclear fission reactors as moderator and structural materials. They are not only used in large quantities in the current UK AGRs, but also to be used in several types of GenIV reactors worldwide including HTGR, VHTR and MSR. Nuclear graphite is also used in large international accelerator facilities as target material to enable the generation of precious particles for research, for instance, the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) at the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) is an international flagship experiment to unlock the mysteries of neutrinos to paint a clearer picture of the universe and how it works. Their research may even give us the key to understanding why we live in a matter-dominated universe — in other words, why we are here at all. In all these above applications, we need to understand better the nano-/microstructure and multiple length-scale thermal/mechanical properties of nuclear graphite due to irradiation damage.

There are many different grades of graphite, for instance, the UK AGRs are using medium grained Gilsocarbon graphite but they are no longer reproducible and for GenIV designs, new graphite materials have to be designed and produced but many of them have finder grains. The question is how well do these fine grain graphite work and will we be able to directly apply our accumulated knowledge on historical grades? As the operation conditions get harsher can we simply linearly extrapolate the known envelope? To answer these questions and to support the long-term safe operation of our nuclear fission reactors as well as underpin the exploration of physics science in general, we need to foster next generation of experts in nuclear graphite.

In this project, we will not only provide you the opportunity to work with world-class graphite experts, access to unique facilities but also we will have your next stage career development in mind to strongly support your skills development. Our primary aim is to enable your success and grow into an expert in nuclear graphite to contribute to nuclear graphite community internationally.

Neutron and proton irradiated samples have been provided by UK National Nuclear Laboratory, EDF Energy, UK Idaho National Laboratory and US Fermi Lab, and they are stored at the University of Bristol and the UK Atomic Energy Agency (Culham) for your project. You will use a range of techniques including X-ray diffraction/tomography, Focused ion beam tomography, Raman spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy to study the evolution of the nano-/microstructures of the materials and correlate them to the local thermal and mechanical properties. The capability of handling irradiated samples and experience on experiments and data analysis established at Bristol will be shared with this PhD project to ensure success.

You will be an enthusiastic and self-motivated person who has a first class or 2:1 honours in Materials Sciences, Physics, Mechanical Engineering or a related subject. You will be working closely with many key industrial partners internationally, conduct experiments and attending conferences in the UK and outside the UK, and you will be contributing to other projects on TRISO fuels and accident tolerant fuels. At Bristol, you will be based at EMAM group working with 10 other PhD students/PDRAs. You will have access to two large working stations to process your data. We are looking forward to having you joining us working on this exciting project.

More details regarding this project please contact Dr. Dong (Lilly) Liu: [Email Address Removed]

Physics (29)

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 About the Project