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Modelling residual stress and mechanical performance of advanced joints for nuclear fusion

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Dr T Sui, Dr M Whiting  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Nuclear fusion has the potential to offer sustainable and clean electricity. However, the engineering challenges associated with design, manufacturing and structural integrity of high value-added fusion components is yet to be overcome. A typical component is the breeding blanket, both Eurofer97- Eurofer97 welded similar joints and Tungsten (W) - Eurofer97 brazed dissimilar joints that utilise complex materials systems, complicated joining geometry and fabrication processes. Residual stress is a side effect inherited from joining processes, such as welding and brazing, and can limit the service life of the components. To complete design of the next fusion reactor by ~2030, it is timely to apply state-of-the-art techniques to examine and create fundamental understandings of the critical residual stress and mechanical behaviour of the welded and brazed Eurofer97. These can be enhanced with finite-element method to provide systematic means of evaluating a wide range of mechanical behaviour of similar and dissimilar joints for nuclear fusion. The objective of this project consists of three aspects: 1) Develop finite-element model to simulate the joining process and capture the residual stress. 2) Evaluate the effect of residual stress on the subsequent mechanical behaviour and improve the modelling with the consideration of any new phenomenon/mechanism. 3) Examine how the residual stress can be mitigated to enhance the mechanical behaviour of the joints.  

This interdisciplinary PhD project allows close collaboration between the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at Surrey, Advanced Engineering Materials team in National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy/United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (CCFE/UKAEA) to create new knowledge and address challenging problems for fusion materials. This project will provide a significant contribution to the integration of materials, joining technique and structural integrity assessment of the next fusion power plant.

This is a 4 year project open to UK students (only UK fees covered). EU/international students are considered only if they can demonstrate exceptional achievements (e.g. publications, excellent academic performance, prizes etc.).


Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least an Upper Second Bachelor’s degree, and preferably a Master’s degree, in an appropriate discipline (e.g. engineering, material sciences, physics, chemistry or a related subject)

If English is not the first language, IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent) is required, with no sub-test score less than 6.

How To Apply

Application should be made through Engineering Materials PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab.

Please state clearly the studentship project that you would like to apply for and the name of your intended supervisor.

Application enquiries are recommended prior to submission and can be directly made to Dr Tan Sui ([Email Address Removed]) or to Hannah Zhang ([Email Address Removed]).

Start Date

October 2022

Funding Notes

Full UK tuition fees with automatic increase to UKRI rate each year. A stipend of £18,609 for 21/22, which will increase each year in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) rate. Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £3,000.
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