PhD - The Effect of Microstructure on Strength and Fracture Resistance of Nuclear Graphite

University of Oxford

James Marrow, David Nowell (Engineering)

The project is concerned with the role of significant defects, such as single or collections of large pores, on sub-critical and critical crack propagation in polygranular nuclear graphite, which is used as a moderator and structural component in the UK Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors, and also in some designs of Generation IV advanced high temperature reactors.

The aim is to experimentally validate a key aspect of the microstructure modelling of short crack propagation in nuclear graphite: the role of significant defects such as single or collections of large pores. Advantage will be taken of new facilities in Oxford (high resolution X-ray computed tomography) and methods for in situ study of three-dimensional deformation and damage (e.g. digital volume correlation). The work will be done using non-irradiated graphite, but the methodology developed will be suitable for active studies in due course.

The project's objectives are to observe the propagation of sub-critical cracks from significant defects in virgin graphite, test developed microstructure-sensitive models of sub-critical crack propagation, simulate the effect of the effects of microstructure on the statistics of strength and fracture resistance of virgin graphite and improve the modelling of sub-critical crack propagation in reactor components. This project is in collaboration with EDF Energy Generation.

This is a 4-year EPSRC Industrial CASE studentship in conjunction with EDF. Candidates are considered in the January 2017 admissions cycle which has an application deadline of 20 January 2017. 

Subject to contract this project will be supported by a 4-year Industrial CASE studentship sponsored by the EPSRC and EDF.  This studentship will provide full fees and maintenance for a student who has home fee status [(this includes an EU student who has spent the previous three years (or more) in the UK undertaking undergraduate study]. The stipend will be at least £16,296 per year. Other EU students should read the guidance at for further information about eligibility. Students classified as overseas fee status are eligible for this funded project, but would have to provide the difference between home/EU and overseas student fees from some other source such as a scholarship or personal funds. For students who commence their studies in October 2017 this difference is expected to be in the region of £48,000 over three years. Please see for a statement of the actual fees.

Any questions concerning the project can be addressed to Professor James Marrow ( General enquiries on how to apply can be made by e‑mail to You must complete the standard Oxford University Application for Graduate Studies. Further information and an electronic copy of the application form can be found at

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South East England