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GREENCDT Functional thin film coatings design and optimisation based on the wear and corrosion mechanisms for the next generation nuclear reactors

   EPSRC CDT in Nuclear Energy - GREEN

About the Project

Are you an enthusiastic graduate with an interest in material, tribology and corrosion in the nuclear industry? Do you wish to join the Nuclear Energy - GREEN (Growing skills for Reliable Economic Energy from Nuclear) Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) team and become a future nuclear expert? Materials challenges have always been critical for delivering low-carbon energy towards the UK’s goal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. From the current technologies (both the current operating reactors and new builds) to the future technologies (such as Advanced Nuclear Reactors and fusion, etc), functional coatings have been supporting the safety, reliability and durability of the components for those challenges. Recent government grant of over £200m to Rolls-Royce small nuclear reactors, part of the Low Cost Nuclear Challenge (LCN), would see more advanced nuclear reactors to be developed in the UK over the coming years.

Components in reactors are typically coated in hard chrome plating using electroplating, a well-established corrosion and wear resistance process. However, Cr-plating creates carcinogens. Since the EU’s REACH legislation took effect, alternatives such as thin film coatings (PVD and CVD coatings), thermal spray, cold spray and many other ceramic coatings, have been researched. Components in nuclear environments have to withstand high levels of irradiation, high temperature wear and corrosion, thus the understanding of those coatings are vital for the safety and longevity of the components. Failure and material degradation mechanisms, the ability to predict material failures and functional new surface coatings design are yet to be fully understood.

This project will focus on the fundamental understanding of coatings subject to irradiation, wear and corrosion environment, enabled by the two Royce facilities at Leeds, i.e., Industrial PVD/PECVD coating system and the new tribological platform for vacuum and gaseous/hydrogen environment, to design and optimise the coating structures, which can benefit many nuclear applications.

This project is part of a Cohort wide recruitment process onto the GREEN CDT and funding for individual projects will be determined by selection of the best Candidate(s).

Funding Notes

A highly competitive EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in GREEN studentship in partnership with Rolls Royce, consisting of the award of fees with a maintenance grant (currently £17,668 in academic session 2022/23) for 4 years. This opportunity is open to UK applicants only. All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in GREEN Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.

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