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Irradiation damage and recovery of zirconium-based alloys

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, March 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

With industrial partner – Westinghouse, Sweden

Zirconium-based alloys are used for structural components in Light Water Reactor (LWR) nuclear fuel. Energetic neutrons emerging from the nuclear fuel create damage within the crystal lattice of the Zr alloys. The immediate results are individual vacancies and interstitials, and, after a short time, vacancy and interstitial loops. Collectively this is termed irradiation damage.

The irradiation damage evolves over time. Sometimes there is recovery (healing) of the damage due to short periods of increased temperature. Over years, the dislocation loops multiply and grow, resulting in irradiation-induced growth (IIG) – a macroscopic shape change of the fuel rods that can limit their useful lifetime.
A proper understanding of irradiation damage, recovery and IIG is essential for further refining the modelling of fuel rod performance. In turn, this requires a better understanding of the formation and evolution of populations of dislocation loops. We need to develop techniques that can quantitatively measure the dislocation loop populations in statistically representative volumes of irradiated material.

Over the last four years, the Zirconium Group at the University of Manchester has been developing the use of x-ray diffraction line profile analysis for the quantification of dislocation loops. This has required a concerted effort employing experiment, simulation and theory and we now have a set of characterisation tools ready to deploy in systematic studies.

This proposed PhD studentship will take these tools through the transition from the development stage to one in which they can be disseminated widely for use by the community in general. Again, this will require a combination of simulation, theoretical and experimental work to benchmark and validate the techniques that we have developed. This will allow us to test the hypothesised growth mechanisms and to disentangle the effects of time, temperature, dose and dose rate on irradiation damage and recovery.

The project feeds into ‘MIDAS’, a £9M EPSRC programme grant led by Manchester, with partners at Oxford, Imperial, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and other UK and international research and industrial stakeholders, and is an exciting opportunity to join the UK’s largest fuel cladding materials programme. . For more information please contact Dr Chris Race ().

Funding Notes

Interested candidates should have/ be expected to be awarded a strong degree in a STEM discipline.

Current UKRI stipend plus a top-up of £2,500p.a. in year 1, and £3,500p.a. in Years 2, 3, and 4, for UK and eligible EU students.

How good is research at The University of Manchester in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials?
Metallurgy and Materials

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.00

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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