PhD Studentship: Effects of loss of constraint on fracture of stainless steel type 316

University of Bristol - Mechanical Engineering

The project:

An EPSRC Industrial CASE award PhD studentship is available at the University of Bristol in collaboration with EDF Energy. 

Failure characteristics of thick-walled austenitic steel structures containing crack-like defects has been well established, particularly in the nuclear industry where safety critical components must demonstrate clear margins to fast fracture even after long term exposure to demanding environments such as irradiation or high temperature. It is well known that thin-walled structures exhibit higher toughness, hence are more defect tolerant, but this is not exploited in assessing the integrity of non - safety critical components. Many of these items are still central to reliable operation of plant nonetheless and a substantial reduction in the conservatism associated with assessment of their defect tolerance is sought to avoid undue inspection, maintenance, or replacement. The aim of this research is to characterise fracture of such thin section components.

The research will use particularly advanced and novel experimental techniques such as integrated digital image correlation – finite element modelling to unravel the characteristic strain fields ahead of defects which can then be incorporated into defect assessment procedures. The work will be complemented by experiments carried out at large national and international facilities such as Diamond Light Source, Didcot, and European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France, to validate laboratory measurements. 

Further Particulars

You will be working as a member of a solid mechanics group at the University of Bristol, a world-renowned research team in the field of Structural Integrity. During your studies you will be performing experiments at University of Bristol's state of the art mechanical testing laboratory and simulating the experiments using finite element analysis. You are expected to be highly computer literate and able to learn using software such as finite element to simulate your experiments.

The successful candidate, therefore, is expected to work closely with industrial supervisors at EDF Energy and the EDF Fellow at the University of Bristol as well as liaising with other EDF students.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select <Mechanical Engineering> on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form with the name of the supervisor

Candidate requirements: 

We are looking for an enthusiastic student with a first-class honours degree in, or expected to achieve in Maths, Physics or Engineering.


This scholarship (subject to confirmation) covering home/EU tuition fees and a generous stipend of at least £16k pa is open to UK applicants and any EU applicants who have been resident in the UK for at least three years prior to registration.  EU nationals who do not meet the UK residence requirement may also apply but will be eligible only for payment of tuition fees. Eligible overseas nationals may be required to pay the difference between home and overseas tuition fee rates.


Please contact Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi,  

For general enquiries, please email

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South West England