Phd Studentship: Determination Of Thermal Ageing Mechanism(s) In Lwr Primary Circuit Pressure Boundary Material

Bristol Area, United Kingdom

Job Description

The project: This PhD project funded by EDF Energy and the UKRI iCase scheme, will use advanced microscopy to understand the changes in microstructure of the steel reactor pressure vessel (RPV) at Sizewell B (SZB) under long-term thermal ageing in-service. SZB is a Light Water Reactor with aspirations to generate low carbon electricity beyond 2050. SZB uses surveillance programmes to track material properties of the RPV. This consists two schemes, one monitoring the effect of high temperature and neutron irradiation whilst the other monitors high temperature effects in isolation. Each scheme consists of capsules containing test specimens which are periodically extracted, tested and analysed to determine whether properties remain within acceptable limits. Detrimental changes in material properties have been observed in both schemes. Whilst property changes are within current safe operation limits, they may challenge aspirations beyond the current planned end of generation (2035).

The project will use a combination of advanced microscopy techniques to investigate the microstructure of SZB RPV steel at different thermal ageing and stress conditions. The project will aim to identify the following objectives:

  • What mechanism(s) give rise to the observed embrittlement in thermally aged low alloy steel used for the SZB RPV?
  • What kinetics do identified mechanisms display? What are the associated implications for other low alloy primary circuit materials that operate at higher temperatures than the RPV?
  • How does pre-stress affect the ageing process and microstructure, and its associated impact on mechanical properties?
  • If time allows, how does the thermally aged material differ from specimens which have also incurred irradiation effects?
The student will undertake advanced microstructural characterisation at the University of Bristol, in particular scanning and transmission electron microscopy, focused ion beam microscopy and atom probe tomography. The student will be trained in the use of these techniques, and learn the skills required to analyse the resulting data. In addition, the student will be trained in the theoretical background and modelling of thermal ageing in low-alloy steels, and the underlying engineering and scientific principals behind water-cooled nuclear reactors.

As part of the project, the student will be expected to undertake a three month placement with EDF at its central facilities, with potential to visit the SZB site and learn more about the operation of a nuclear reactor.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at . Please select Physics PhD on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Funding: This project is fully funded under the UKRI iCase scheme, with UK fees covered. The student will receive a \xc2\xa318,622 stipend + \xc2\xa31500 top-up. Note that international fees are not covered.

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Job Detail

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    Full Time
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  • Job Location
    Bristol Area, United Kingdom
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