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PhD Studentship: Materials Performance of austenitic stainless steels in high temperature Helium environment

The University of Manchester

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Manchester
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £19,237
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 28th May 2024
Expires: 26th August 2024
Reference: Materials

Funding notes: Industrial CASE, EPSRC supported by EDF Energy. The candidate need to either be UK national or UK resident. Will provide a stipend of at least the standard UKRI rate. (24/25 £19,237 / year) and cover tuition fees at the Home UKRI rate. Proposed start date: 21/09/2024 to 01/01/2025 Duration of project/funding: 3.5 years

This innovative PhD project, conducted in collaboration with EDF Energy, invites a passionate and dedicated researcher to join a transformative exploration at the forefront of materials science, making meaningful contributions to the future of energy technology. The primary objective of this research is to comprehensively understand the behavior of austenitic stainless steels in the complex setting of High-Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGR), particularly when exposed to impure helium environments. Retraining opportunities are available for candidates without a materials background. This PhD comes with a competitive stipend and an industrial uplift from the base EPSRC, providing a supportive environment for cutting-edge research in the field of high-temperature materials for energy applications.

Objective:

This innovative PhD project seeks to comprehensively understand the behavior of austenitic stainless steels in the complex setting of High-Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGR), particularly when exposed to impure helium environments. The primary objective is to fill critical knowledge gaps related to the effects of impurities, surface treatments, and their combined influence on the degradation of structural materials, ultimately impacting the mechanical properties of HTGR components.

Significance:

The historical significance of impurities, including H2, CO, and H2O, in the degradation of materials under high-temperature helium conditions forms the foundation of this research. Given the anticipated role of stainless steels and Alloy 800H as structural materials in upcoming HTGR projects, understanding their performance is crucial for ensuring the structural integrity and safety of these reactors.

Methodology:

The research employs a multi-faceted approach, incorporating oxidation tests, microscopy techniques, and creep tests. Oxidation tests on 316H stainless steels and alloy 800H will be conducted without applied stress, allowing for a systematic evaluation of various impurity levels and surface finishes. Advanced microscopy techniques will then be utilized to delve into the intricate details of material degradation behavior under impure helium. Creep tests, involving uniaxial loading and repeating underload, will provide valuable insights into the mechanical and environmental degradation behavior of the materials. Microstructure analysis post-creep tests will contribute to a holistic understanding of the relationships between mechanical properties and environmental degradation.

Benefit:

This PhD studentship offers a competitive industrial stipend uplift from the EPSRC base rate. The supervisory team, consisting of two academics along with industrial supervisors, will facilitate the translation of research into an industrial context. Close collaboration with EDF technical experts ensures that the research remains aligned with industry needs and is relevant to the ongoing development of High-Temperature Gas Reactors. The project's alignment with the UK's goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 further emphasizes its broader significance in the context of sustainable energy development.

Overall Impact:

By the project's conclusion, we aim to contribute substantially to the understanding of HTGR structural materials, providing valuable material test data and in-depth insights into the effects of impurities and surface finishes. Join us in this transformative exploration, where your dedication can shape the future of energy technology in collaboration with EDF Energy.

For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Fabio Scenini at Fabio.Scenini@manchester.ac.uk

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