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PhD in Examining the Combined Effect of Irradiation and Microsegregation on the Microstructure and Mechanical Properties on Low-Alloy Steel Welds

The University of Manchester - Department of Materials

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Manchester
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: UKRI rate (currently £15,609 p.a.) plus £3,250 per year top-up
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 7th January 2022
Closes: 31st January 2022
 

Supervisors: Dr Ed Pickering & Professor John Francis

Collaborator: Rolls Royce

Based at: The University of Manchester

Stipend: UKRI rate (currently £15,609 p.a.) plus £3,250 per year top-up

Open to: Candidate with a 2.1 or 1st class degree in a STEM discipline

This project is based at the Department of Materials at the University of Manchester, and is sponsored by Rolls Royce. We are seeking applicants with a 2.1 or 1st class degree in a STEM discipline.

Many of the components used in nuclear power plants are produced from low-alloy steels, which are welded together during construction to form complete parts.  During welding, solidification takes place in the ‘fusion zone’ of the weld, and this can introduce chemical segregation on a small scale (tens of microns).  Such compositional variations are referred to as ‘microsegregation’, and can lead to microstructural variations in the fusion zone material. This is because the microstructures (and resulting properties) of steels depend strongly on chemical composition.

This project aims to determine the effect of microsegregation on the microstructure and mechanical properties of fusion-zone material following irradiation with protons.  Irradiation is known to cause changes in the microstructure of alloys, often leading to increased levels of hardness and brittleness.  The combined effect of microsegregation and irradiation damage is not well characterised in weld fusion zones, and requires careful examination (this is where the key novelty in the project lies). 

The main objectives are as follows:

  • Use advanced proton irradiation facilities at the University of Manchester’s Dalton Cumbria Facility (DCF) to irradiate welds to mimic the effect of exposure to reactor conditions.
  • Following irradiation, characterise the microstructures and mechanical properties of the welds using advanced techniques available at the University of Manchester and the Henry Royce Institute (e.g., scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy).
  • Compare the results obtained from two different welding techniques:
  • (i) narrow-gap tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, a conventional welding method for large nuclear components, and
  • (ii) electron-beam welding, an advanced method of joining that is being investigated for future use. 

The project will examine welds made using steel grades that are commonly used in nuclear plants, such that the results are of maximum relevance to the industrial partner, Rolls-Royce.  There may be opportunities for the student to spend time at Rolls-Royce to gain experience of working in an industrial environment.

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Metallic Systems is a partnership between industry and the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester and I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Centre, Dublin. CDT students undertake a 4-year doctorate with an in-depth compulsory technical and professional skills training programme. Please review our training programme, application process and full entry requirements at www.metallicscdt.co.uk. Please note, application is only via the University of Manchester (see website), and general enquiries can be made to the CDT (enquiries@metallics.co.uk).

For more information on the research scope of the project please contact Ed Pickering at ed.pickering@manchester.ac.uk.

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