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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R043973/1
Title: enabling Sixty Years creep-fatigue life of the NExt generation nuclear Reactors 'SYNERgy'
Principal Investigator: Chen, Professor B
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Commissariat à l'énergie atomique CEA Culham Centre for Fusion Energy DG Joint Research Centre
East China University of Science & Techn EDF Henry Royce Institute
National Nuclear Laboratory Nuclear AMRC State Nuclear Power Technolo Corporation
University of Manchester, The
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Leicester
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 March 2019 Ends: 28 February 2025 Value (£): 1,247,261
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Nuclear
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Sep 2018 Eng Fellowship Interviews Sept 2018 Announced
11 Apr 2018 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 11 and 12 April 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The science and engineering of materials have been fundamental to the success of nuclear power to date. They are also the key to the successful deployment and operation of a new generation of nuclear reactor systems. The next-generation nuclear reactors (Gen IV) operating at temperatures of 550C and above have been previously studied to some extent and in many cases experimental or prototype nuclear systems have been operated. For example, the UK was the world-leading nation to operate the Dounreay experimental sodium-cooled fast nuclear reactor (SFR) for ~19 years and a prototype fast reactor for ~20 years. However, even for those SFRs with in total of 400 reactor-years international operating experience, their commercial deployment is still held up. A formidable challenge for the design, licensing and construction of next-generation Gen IV SFRs or the other high-temperature nuclear reactors is the requirement to have a design life of 60 years or more.

The key degradation mechanisms for the high-temperature nuclear reactors is the creep-fatigue of steel components. When structural materials are used at high temperature, thermal ageing and inelastic deformation lead to changes in their microstructures. The creep and creep-fatigue performance of structural materials are limited by the degradation of microstructures. The underlying need is to develop improved understanding and predictive models of the evolution of the key microstructural features which control long-term creep performance and creep-fatigue interaction. This Fellowship will use an integrated experimental and modelling approach covering different length and time scales to understand and predict the long-term microstructural degradation and creep-fatigue deformation and damage process. I will then use the new scientific information to make significant technological breakthroughs in predicting long-term creep-fatigue life that include microstructural degradation process. I will thereby realise a radical step beyond the current phenomenological or a functional form of constitutive models which received very limited success when extrapolated to long-term operational conditions. This research will put me and the UK at the forefront of nuclear fission research.

This Fellowship will enable the 60 years creep-fatigue life of the next-generation high-temperature nuclear systems by developing a materials science underpinned and engineering based design methodology and implement it into future versions of high-temperature nuclear reactor design codes. In consequence, Gen IV reactor technologies will become commercially viable and Gen IV SFRs will be built globally to provide an excellent solution for recycling today's nuclear waste. This fellowship aims to influence the international organisations responsible for the next-generation nuclear design codes and gaining an early foothold in the international nuclear R&D via this research will give the best chance to secure Intellectual Property and return long term economic gains to our UK.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.le.ac.uk