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Understanding of the Chemical Effects on Oxidation Behaviour of Accident Tolerant Materials for Plasma Facing Component (PFC)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E Prestat
    Prof G Burke
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Conditions inside fusion reactors are exceptionally hostile, involving both high temperatures and severe levels of neutron irradiation. Tungsten (W) is the main candidate material for the armour of the plasma facing component (PFC) in the Tokamak-type fusion reactor. Apart from the intrinsic brittleness of W that limits the operational window of the Tokamak-type fusion reactor, another problem of using W for the PFC armour is the formation of radioactive and highly volatile Tungsten Trioxide or Tungstic anhydride (WO3) at the surface of the PFC armour and their potential release under accidental conditions, such as loss of coolant or loss of vacuum accidents. Previous studies had demonstrated that the oxidation of W can be suppressed in ternary systems, e.g. W-Cr-Ti, W-Ta-Ti, W-Ta-Zr, W-Cr-Zr, because stable oxide can be formed. In particular, W-Cr-Ti and W-Cr-Y, have demonstrated the slowest oxidation rate and the formation of a self-passivating oxide layer at the surface of the W-alloys. However, the roles of Cr, Ti and Y mechanism behind the suppression of the oxidation process is not yet understood and therefore needs to be studied. Also, the effects of radiation on these W alloys have not been addressed, and previous studies have shown that irradiation will, in general, induced precipitation and segregation of the alloying elements to dislocation lines and grain boundary in alloys, which in turn would affect the oxidation behaviour of the W-alloys.

In this project, the PhD student will study the Cr, Ti and Y effects on the microstructure evolution of the binary and ternary W-alloys, e.g. W-Re, W-Cr, W-Ti, W-Y, W-Cr-Ti and W-Cr-Y, under (1) irradiation condition, (2) oxidising condition and (3) irradiation and oxidising condition. Irradiation experiment of W-alloys will be performed at the Dalton Cumbria Facility, University of Manchester. Both as-received and irradiated W-alloys will be characterised using state of the art aberration corrected Scanning/Transmission Electron Microscope (S/TEM) at the University of Manchester or the national facility for aberration corrected STEM SuperSTEM. In-situ TEM oxidising experiments will also be performed at University of Manchester to study the chemical effects on the kinetic of the oxide(s) growth from W-alloys. The ultimate goal of this research is to design new materials suitable as PFC by understanding the mechanism that governing oxide(s) growth under an oxidising condition up to a temperature of 1300 degree Celsius.

This project is part of ongoing research on oxidation of W-alloys under the WPD4 – Experiments on irradiated material and EUROfusion WPMAT on developing of SMART materials.
The Materials Performance Centre (MPC) in the Department of Materials works extensively on materials in power generation systems, in particular those involving of the use and development of analytical TEM for the advancement of materials for Fusion Energy, such as for example the EUROfusion Enabling Research Project - ATOMCRAD. The MPC has pioneered the development of in situ analytical TEM for the study of materials used in nuclear power plant and this project will benefit from these recent advancements and strengthen this research programme.

The project will be based mainly in Manchester, but may involve short trips to international research institutions carrying out related work (such visits will be optional). The student will have the opportunity to develop transferable skills ranging from modelling and programming to data mining using open source python tools, the analysis of complex S/TEM data and effective communication skills.

The successful candidate will have a good undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, e.g. materials science, physics or engineering.

Funding Notes

This project is being considered for DTA funding. This would provide a full fee waiver and a EPSRC minimum stipend. International applicants are welcome to apply but will require access to self-funding.

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Materials Science or Physics.

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)

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