PhD Studentship, Cryogenic Performance of Fusion Components and Their Materials

Southampton, United Kingdom
£16,062p.a. for up to 3.5 years
11 May 2022
End of advertisement period
31 Aug 2022
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Mechanical Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Wednesday 31 August 2022
Reference:  1808622DA

Supervisory Team:    Dr Wendell Bailey, Dr Andrew Robinson, Prof P.A.S. Reed

Project description

Fusion is the process that heats the Sun and all other stars, where atomic nuclei collide together and release energy. The goal of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is to commercialise fusion, by developing ‘tokamak’ devices, which use magnetic fields to confine fusion fuel, as a design for future fusion power plants which have vast potential as a safe, abundant source of low-carbon electricity, 

Cryogenics is recognised as an enabling technology that is becoming increasingly more prevalent for enhancing and extending performance of new systems. One of the major challenges with developing tokamaks stems directly from the choice of materials, and identifying their true operating limits during cryogenic service. Existing fundamental material property data at low operating temperatures is scarce but essential for the design and operation of superconducting magnet coils and their structural housing. Obtaining this material property information in novel ways is the focus for this project.

 Your PhD will utilise digital image correlation (DIC), which is a non-contact imaging technique to obtain strain information from the surface of a material or component, alongside inverse identification methods to extract material data from novel mechanical tests. The project will involve developing new methodologies for the use of DIC at cryogenic temperatures (cryo-DIC) for data-rich material and component testing alongside finite element performance model validation. One key challenge in this project is the provision of visual access, essential for directly inspecting specimens at low temperature and under mechanical load. This requirement limits the methods available to effectively transfer cold to the “test zone” inside a chamber, and needs to be solved for the work to successfully progress toward performing scaled up tests upon representative sub-component size geometries, which is critical to deliver fusion technology.

The PhD will be carried out at the University of Southampton within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and you will be using the advanced mechanical testing facilities available in our testing and structures research laboratory (TSRL), part of the National Infrastructure Laboratory (NIL) on the Boldrewood Innovation Campus. Specific training to learn the fundamentals of cryogenics, low temperature instrumentation and the necessary applied engineering to create cold test environments will be delivered in the bespoke Cryogenics Laboratory on the Highfield Campus.

You will be working under the supervision of Dr Wendell Bailey and Dr Andrew Robinson and will be part of a team working on cryogenic DIC methods and the application of non-contacting imaging techniques to extreme environments. Your will also have close contact with your industrial supervisor, Dr Lloyd Fletcher. The industrial sponsors for this project are UKAEA and your PhD will involve visits to their world leading fusion facilities.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: 31 August 2022.

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £16,062p.a. for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Apply online: Select (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page “PhD  Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 insert the name of the supervisor  Wendell Bailey 

Applications should include

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two reference letters
  • Degree Transcripts to date

For further information please contact:

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