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Understanding Radiation Damage in Zircaloy-4 for Current and Future Nuclear Applications

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Radiation-induced defects can have significant effects on the performance of materials and hence need to be accurately quantified and understood for the continued use and future development of nuclear reactor technologies. This is particularly the case for Zircaloy-4 which is a Zr-based alloy of major importance for nuclear fuel cladding in pressurised water reactors. Under irradiation at high temperatures, it develops microstructural defects including dislocation loops and gas bubbles. Furthermore, hydrides can also develop due to aqueous corrosion. This project will explore these issues to help in the development of safe low-carbon energy from nuclear fission.

This project will see the PhD student working on materials to tackle challenges faced in current and developmental nuclear reactor technologies. Using the Microscopes and Ion Accelerators for Materials Investigations (MIAMI) facility at Huddersfield, the successful candidate will explore specific challenges faced in understanding the behaviour of Zircaloy-4 both for the assessment of performance of existing reactors and the development of new reactor core designs:

- Understanding dislocation loop formation and growth in Zircaloy-4 both with and without the presence of hydrogen;
- The effects of common fission products in Zircaloy-4 (e.g. yttrium, strontium, barium) and their tendency to cluster;
- Understanding the formation and behaviour of gas bubbles of helium, krypton and xenon in damaged and hydride specimens.

The successful candidate will get the opportunity to work on the world-leading MIAMI facility and on real-world challenges of direct relevance to the development of next-generation nuclear technologies. They will also gain a highly-prized skillset including expertise in transmission electron microscopy, nuclear materials and atomic collisions in solids.

The MIAMI facility offers the possibility of simulating the high temperatures, atomic displacements and incorporation of new elemental species experienced by nuclear materials whilst in-service. By performing all this in-situ whilst making direct observations at the nanoscale, MIAMI generates rich and invaluable data on the evolution of the microstructure under these conditions which ultimately determines the performance of components on the macroscale.

Funding Notes

Candidates should have an undergraduate (or higher) degree in engineering, the physical sciences, materials science or a related field with a good materials background.

This PhD position is EPSRC funded and is only available to UK permanent residents. Stipend of £15,245 per annum, incrementing each year.

Funds are also available for travel to national and international conferences/workshops to present work and meet other researchers from around the world.

How good is research at University of Huddersfield in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

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

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