PhD Studentship: Hydrogen Pickup in Zirconium Nuclear Fuel Cladding Materials Performance Centre

Application Closing Date: 31 December 2012
Supervisors: Profs. Stuart Lyon and Michael Preuss

Nuclear fuel rods are constructed from zirconium alloys and are exposed to high temperature, high pressure water in the core of a light water reactor, where they corrode. During the corrosion reaction hydrogen is produced and part of this is absorbed by the alloy where it unfortunately has a detrimental effect on the alloy properties. Therefore precise knowledge of the kinetics and the mechanism of hydrogen uptake is needed. Currently, hydrogen measurements are performed ex-situ after corrosion in an autoclave. The aim of this research is to develop a method for measuring hydrogen uptake continuously into zirconium within the high temperature, high pressure environment.

Technology, which is operational at ambient conditions, already exists to measure hydrogen in metals and the research proposes to extend the operational parameters of this technique. Success would enable measurements in systematically controlled environmental conditions that will resolve questions regarding the exact mechanism of hydrogen uptake into zirconium.

Funding and Eligibility

This 3.5 year project is fully funded (tuition fees and student stipend in excess of £16,500/annum) by EdF and applicants with a materials science and engineering background, or a background in electrochemistry/corrosion are sought. Applicants from outside the EU may apply but should be aware that the topic of research will result in very close scrutiny by the UK immigration office.

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