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Liquid metals embrittlement behaviour of fusion materials under radiation environment

   School of Metallurgy & Materials

About the Project

Fusion power is one of the reliable energy sources that is clean. Energy was harnessed from the fusion reactions of two hydrogen isotopes, i.e. tritium and deuterium. To ensure sustainable fusion, it is necessary to breed tritium from lithium. Liquid lithium (Li) and liquid Lithium Lead eutectic (LiPb) have been identified are potential breeder candidates that are able to breed tritium effectively to meet future demands while also act as a coolant for power generation. Previous studies demonstrated that structural materials for fusion application such as Fe-9Cr ferritic/martensitic (F/M) alloys including Grade 91/92, Eurofer, or F82H, have reasonable compatibility with Li and LiPb at temperature up to ~ 500°C. However alloying elements, particularly carbon and chromium in these alloys, have detrimental effects on alloy compatibility with liquid Li and LiPb.

This PhD project will focuses on the mechanistic understanding of Fe-9Cr F/M steels degradation under radiation environment is crucial to the development of UK fusion reactor, especially on the materials safety/ lifetime assessment, and to support next generation materials development. More specifically, this proposed PhD will investigate the mechanisms that govern the irradiation-enhance leaching rate of alloying elements in Fe-9Cr F/M alloys with the unique irradiation and also advanced microstructural and chemical characterization facilities available at the University of Birmingham. The outcome will contribute to clarify the compatibility of alloying elements in Fe-9Cr F/M alloys with liquid Li and LiPb under irradiation conditions.

This is a challenging and exciting PhD project. The knowledge generated from this project will directly contributing to the development and commercialisation of sustainable fusion power plant. The successful PhD candidate is expected to design and develop a unique irradiation approach with the guidance of his/her supervisors. Also, to perform detail microstructure characterisation before and after irradiation in liquid Li and LiPb. After completion of this PhD project, the successful candidate will be the expert in liquid Li and LiPb embrittlement of fusion materials, specifically Fe-9Cr based steels, and expert in neutron-materials interactions.

The candidate should have a 1st class or 2.1 Undergraduate or Masters degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Materials Science, or related discipline. A background in nuclear irradiation and/or microstructural characterisation would be advantageous.

To Apply please provide: (1) A curriculum vitae (CV), (2) A Cover Letter summarising your research interests and suitability for the position, and (3) The contact details of two Referees. Please send to Professor Yu-Lung Chiu – and/or Professor Martin Freer –

Funding Notes

A funded 3.5-year UK PhD studentship is available at the University of Birmingham with a tax-free stipend at the UKRI standard level. The project is co-funded by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) / Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), co-supervised by Dr Joven Lim.

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