Solid Mechanics Research Group News

October 2019: New Research Fellowship

Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi has been awarded a Senior Research Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering, part-sponsored by UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). He will work on high temperature fusion engineering. Read the news story here


November 2018: New Research Contacts for SMRG

Dr Nicolas Larrosa has been awarded two new research grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Professor Chris Truman and Dr Harry Coules have commenced a new project with Wood, on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on characterisation of mechanical stress in AGR fuel cladding.


September 2018: Research Collaboration with UKAEA Fusion Technology Facilities

The new Fusion Technology Facilities have found many friends and collaborators supportive of the aim to develop the technologies required for fusion. One particularly strong collaboration can be found between the Materials Technology Laboratory of UKAEA’s Fusion Technology Facilities and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol.

Substantial Investment in Equipment and Skills

After discussions on the exciting aims of the Materials Technology Laboratory, leading researchers at the University of Bristol utilised their internal funding to develop facilities and a skill base that can foster collaborations. In consultation with UKAEA’s Dr Mike Gorley, Professor David Knowles and Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi from the Solid Mechanics Research Group have established ~£250k worth of mechanical testing equipment that complements the new Materials Technology Laboratory equipment at UKAEA. They have also provided funding to support a joint University of Bristol and UKAEA post-doctoral researcher to work on the new equipment at both the University of Bristol and the UKAEA’s Materials Technology Laboratory.

Collaboration on Fusion Materials Testing

Dr Mike Gorley (Head of UKAEA’s Materials Technology Laboratory) said “This budding collaboration between UKAEA and Bristol not only shows the strong support from UK academia for our vision for fusion materials testing, but also the promise of world leading science we can accomplish together. Having Bristol support a postdoctoral researcher working at Bristol and UKAEA will enable key knowledge sharing and will be a give our Materials Technology Laboratory at UKAEA an boosted start to life.

"It’s a great beginning, and a testament to the hard work from the whole Fusion Technology Team in establishing links and an ambitious, exciting and industrially related research programme.  With support from partners like Bristol I believe we can extend our research beyond the initial aims, and we will take a step closer to realising our fusion powered future.”

With new equipment already in place at the UKAEA’s Materials Technology Laboratory and University of Bristol, plans are well underway for some pioneering collaborative research projects. Another example of exciting work ongoing at UKAEA, fostered by the National Fusion Technology Platform.



March 2018: Investment in New Equipment for Materials Research

As part of recent investment in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol, the Solid Mechanics Research Group (SMRG) has been awarded funding for new equipment to carry out advanced mechanical testing and high temperature measurements.

This equipment will be used for experimental research programmes on structural integrity and materials characterisation for industrial applications. SMRG has many years of experience in this area, including a long-standing relationship with EDF Energy.

SMRG already operates two laboratories for mechanical testing and high temperature experiments in the UoB Queen’s Building (School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering); the additional equipment will enable SMRG to seek new research opportunities. SMRG’s contribution to structural integrity research has included work which has been important to EDF Energy for supporting their UK fleet of Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors.

Professor David Knowles, Engineering Director of the South West Nuclear Hub, and Head of SMRG:

“We are delighted that SMRG has been awarded this funding for new equipment. Our group has an excellent track record of research in structural integrity, particularly for the nuclear industry. This includes our ‘High Temperature Centre’ research programme partnership with EDF Energy, which has been running successfully since 2008.

Our work with EDF will continue in the coming years; but we are also moving into new technology areas, particularly with regards to advanced nuclear energy systems. Advanced modular reactors, Generation IV and nuclear fusion systems present significant challenges associated with structural materials operating in challenging environments; experimental research is vital to support the design and operation of these systems. Our new equipment will help us to become more involved in these areas and to develop further industrial and academic partnerships.”




February 2018: New Research Projects Starting Soon


The University of Bristol (UoB) Solid Mechanics Research Group (SMRG) will soon begin work on two major nuclear energy research projects:

  • MAINTAiN, Multi-scAle INTegrity assessment for Advanced high-temperature Nuclear systems, funded by EPSRC. SMRG will lead this project, working with Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, and Manchester and a number of industrial partners notably, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, EDF Energy, Wood, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Improved Understanding and Modelling of Advanced Joining Technologies. SMRG will be a partner of Frazer-Nash Consultancy on behalf of Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Dr Mahmoud Mostafavi, Lecturer in Nuclear Structural Integrity, is the SMRG academic lead on both of these projects:


“We are delighted to be starting work on these two new projects in the first quarter of 2018. They both consider structural integrity issues in a nuclear industry context, building on substantial experience that SMRG has in this area. These projects will help shape engineering practice in the design of advanced nuclear systems, including Generation IV nuclear reactors.

Winning these two projects has allowed SMRG to recruit three new post doctoral researchers, therefore helping to develop the wider UK skill base in nuclear structural integrity issues. Their skills will be complementary to the new cohort of the PhD students who recently have joined or will be joining the group.

We are particularly excited that both projects are relevant to advanced nuclear energy systems and technologies, which is an important area of research for the UK.

At Bristol we will carry out a number of experimental and theoretical research activities on these two projects. We look forward to working with our academic and industrial partners to deliver high-impact research activities which can help contribute towards the UK’s reputation and progress in nuclear energy research.”

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