Alloy Design and Thermomechanical Processing of Reduced Activation Steels for Nuclear Reactors – Materials Strand project

Supervisors: Professors Eric Palmiere and Mark Rainforth (University of Sheffield)

The UKs Sixth Carbon Budget set into law the world’s most ambitious climate change target, cutting CO2 emissions by 78% of their 1990 levels by 2035, and bringing the UK towards a net zero carbon emission target by 2050. This ambitious target will be realised using a combination of renewable energy sources with energy from nuclear fusion, which offers the ultimate clean power solution, playing an important role in the transition to the required low carbon future. The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) is a UKAEA programme that will deliver net electricity generation from fusion within a very ambitious time frame, with a targeted completion of 2040. The design of STEP will require components to operate at higher doses and higher temperatures than ever experienced in service and of course with long component lifetimes to ensure economic energy production. The current reduced activation ferritic martensitic (RAFM) steels for breeder blanket components of fusion reactors are not good enough to survive these conditions. For example, current RAFM steels, such as F82H and Eurofer97, possess a limited application temperature range of ~330-550oC. This project will design new advanced RAFM steel compositions that will offer superior creep resistance as well as exhibiting greatly improved impact properties, allowing these steels to operate at higher temperatures (>550oC) and be better able to resist radiation hardening/embrittlement and radiation enhanced creep. This will be achieved using a programme of innovative alloy design and novel thermomechanical processing (TMP).

Your research will be part of a team based at The University of Sheffield and using the state-of-the-art metals processing and characterisation facilities at the Henry Royce Institute. Additionally, you will be working in collaboration with UKAEA as well as other participating universities, research institutes and industrial partners with a singular focus to make fusion energy become a reality.

The project would be mainly based in Sheffield. However, we would anticipate there being opportunities for short term travel nationally and internationally, to UKAEA as well as other research facilities, collaborators, industrial partners and conferences. These would not be compulsory, and engagement with such opportunities would be determined both by the direction of the research, and the situation of the researcher themselves.

This project is offered by University of Sheffield. For further information please contact: Professor Eric Palmiere (