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Use of 2D Coatings (e.g., Functional Ceramics / Graphene / Graphene Oxide) for Corrosion Protection in Nuclear Power Plants [Sponsor: EDF Energy; Fully funded]

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  • Full or part time
    Dr B Connolly
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

This PhD is part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in "Materials for Demanding Environments" [M4DE CDT], is sponsored by EDF Energy and will commence September 2018.


Corrosion of metallic materials is an unfortunate and relentless problem that has plagued mankind for thousands of years. In industrial societies, massive costs of maintenance and repair are associated largely with degradation due to weathering or corrosion of structural components. During the last two decades there has been a renewed push to develop novel coating systems to protect infrastructure. Given the inadequacies of current technologies, the exploration of a new coating paradigm has become imperative. At the forefront of this paradigm shift has been the development of 2-dimmensional coating systems composed of graphene, graphene oxides and other functional ceramics. Although these types of coatings have shown some promise there is very little understanding as to their long–term stability and protective characteristics in challenging, severe conditions such as the high temperature, high pressure, radioactive environments seen in nuclear power plants.

Project Outline

In this project the focus will be placed on investigating the protective nature of candidate 2D coating systems when exposed to simulated high temperature / high pressure water (i.e., up to 300C at 100bar) used in the primary loop of light water reactor systems such as those being built by EDF Energy in the UK at Hinkley Point in Somerset. In addition experiments will be performed to investigate the effect of proton irradiation on the protective nature of the 2D coating systems. The student will be able to use the world-class irradiation facility at the University of Manchester (i.e., the Dalton Cumbria Facility) to perform in situ irradiation experiments in a bespoke environmental chamber capable of replicating the demanding temperatures and pressures in plant.
Characterisation of the coatings both from an electrochemical and structural nature will be a key component in the project. Again the student will be able to utilise the University of Manchester’s world-class facilities which include suites of the latest electron microscopes and analytical equipment to develop mechanistic understanding of the degradation and protective nature of these advanced coating systems.

It should be noted that the industrial supervisor of this project is embedded within the Chemistry Team at EDF’s Barnwood R&D facility. It is envisaged that the student will spend time interacting and possibly embedded within this team for a portion of the studentship.

About EDF Energy

EDF Energy Research and Development (R&D UK) is a centre of technical excellence whose main purpose is helping to build a brighter energy future for the UK. Its vision is to: “Accelerate the transition to a sustainable, low carbon society through the development and testing of new technologies and business models.” EDF Energy is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity is currently advancing research in the fields of Low Carbon Generation (supporting existing nuclear, nuclear new build and renewables), Modelling and Simulation, Environment and Natural Hazards, Energy System Design, Smart Cities, Local Energy Systems, Energy Storage & Efficiency and Smart Digital Technology. By coupling the advances in science and engineering with the emergence of new digital innovations EDF Energy R&D UK is providing ground breaking solutions to policy makers, partners and customers in order to realise our vision.

Funding Notes

Funding covers tuition fees and annual maintenance payments of £17,000 tax free. Students with a first class/2.1 degree (or equivalent) in Engineering, Materials Science, Metallurgy, Physics, Chemistry or another aligned science or engineering subject are encouraged to apply. Applications will be reviewed as they are received until a candidate is selected; therefore candidates are encouraged to apply early

Funding is only available for UK / EU candidates.

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