Vacancies (Updated May 2019)


PhD Opportunities in Nuclear Structural Integrity

UoB’s Solid Mechanics Research Group (SMRG) has a number of PhD projects available, commencing in 2019. These projects would suit candidates with a good first degree and/or Masters in Engineering, Mathematics or the Physical Sciences. These projects offer excellent opportunities for both experimental and modelling work along with travel opportunities to conferences and multi-user X-ray and neutron facilities in the UK and internationally.

Working with partners in major nuclear industry companies such as EDF Energy, UK Atomic Energy Authority and National Nuclear Laboratory also offers excellent opportunities to consider a future career in the nuclear sector.

UoB is also a partner in a newly-announced EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy Futures, led by Imperial College. Some of the SMRG projects can be incorporated into the CDT if desired; compared to a normal 3.5 year PhD, the CDT is 4 years in duration, with much of the first year focusing on taught courses and personal/professional development.

The projects are described below. An enhanced stipend may be available. Please contact Professor Chris Truman ( or Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi ( with any informal enquiries.


Title: High temperature digital image correlation of small punch test‌

Description: Creep damage is the principal life limiting factor in the life of a thermal plant. Materials behaviour in creep regime is evaluated using uniaxial tests. However, the majority of components experience a multi-axial stress state. Stress multi-axiality can have a significant effect on the rate of initiation and growth of creep cavities. This project is aimed at designing, optimising, and eventually exploiting optical techniques for creep study of small punch tests.

Supervisor(s): Dr Harry Coules (UoB) and Dr Yiqiang Wang (UKAEA)

Sponsor(s): EPSRC and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority


Title: Plasticity-induced damage in high temperature reactors‌

Description: Creep damage is the principal life limiting factor in the life of a thermal plant. In a plant the damage accumulates over decades but to study creep damage root-cause and effects in reasonable timescale, short term experimental testing (creep acceleration) is required. The project will employ advanced experimental techniques such as digital image correlation, electron backscattered diffraction and synchrotron X-ray diffraction. These will be combined with state-of-the-art modelling, including crystal plasticity finite element analysis.

Supervisor(s): Professor David Knowles (UoB) and Dr Marc Chevalier (EDF Energy)

Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EDF Energy


Title: Simulation and experimental validation of creep–fatigue interaction

Description: Capitalising on the knowledge and expertise of long-term operation of high temperature reactors, the UK is well positioned to lead international efforts to design and build the high temperature components of a fusion reactor. However, the loading profile of a fusion reactor is different from that of a fission reactor. While a fission reactor experiences only a few hundred major cycles with long dwells in its lifetime, a fusion reactor is expected to see thousands of cycles a year. This will make the damage mechanism from which fusion reactor components suffer unique. This project is aimed at simulating this creep fatigue interaction using finite element modelling and validating the model using advanced experimental techniques.

Supervisor(s): Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi (UoB) and Dr Mike Gorley (UKAEA)

Sponsor(s): EPSRC and United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority


Title: Welded joints behaviour in high temperature reactors

Description: Welded joints are one of most safety critical locations in a reactor structure. They are often prone to damage after decades of operation and can be considered to be one of the life-limiting factors in the UK’s advanced gas cooled reactors. This is because of the complexities involved in a weld including the residuals stress, varying microstructure and their complicated geometry. The aim of this project is to identify the criticality of the stress concentration created at the interface of a welded joint through advanced experimental techniques such as Digital Image Correlation and synchrotron X-ray diffraction.

Supervisor(s): Professor Chris Truman (UoB) and Professor David Dean (EDF Energy)

Sponsor(s): EPSRC and EDF Energy


Title: Multi-scale mechanical stress in nuclear fuel cladding

Description: Intergranular stress corrosion cracking (IGSCC) is an issue of interest in respect of the long-term storage of irradiated (spent) nuclear fuel from the UK’s Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) nuclear power plants. AGR fuel cladding is stainless steel; in order to underpin the long-term storage of this fuel underwater in purpose-built storage ponds, it is necessary to develop a better understanding of the influence of mechanical stress on IGSCC. This will be done by using a number of different methods and equipment, including well-equipped residual stress and microstructural characterisation laboratories at Bristol, as well as UK and international X-ray and neutron user facilities. Depending on the outcome of the experimental work, there may be opportunities to help develop stress measurement technology for deployment on real samples of spent fuel at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria.

Supervisor: Dr Harry Coules (UoB)

Sponsor(s): Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and National Nuclear Laboratory.



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