I recently completed my BEng in Mechanical Engineering, undertaken part-time at the University of Lancaster and Furness College, while working as an engineer on the Dreadnought class of nuclear submarines. I’ve been passionate about the promise of fusion energy for several years, and consequently undertook a final year project which aimed to characterise high-strain rate mechanical properties of RAFM steels for reactor environments. The project gave me an appreciation for the advanced and pioneering work being done in fusion research, and the Fusion CDT seemed to me the ideal way to enter into this field.
I’m now going on to study for my PhD in the Science and Technology of Fusion Energy with a project entitled ‘Alloy design and high-temperature mechanics of plasma-facing materials’. I’ll be based at The University of Manchester, supervised by Dr Enrique Jimenez-Melero and Prof. Grace Burke.
The project will look at tungsten alloys, which stand as the primary candidates for Plasma Facing Component (PFC) materials in the most onerous environments of future fusion reactors. The aim of the project is to accelerate and rationalise development of the next generation of binary and ternary W alloys, through the adoption of a systematic design approach, utilising thermodynamic and ab initio calculations, coupled with density functional theory and Monte Carlo simulations to predict and model alloy behaviours. Promising alloys will be produced using powder metallurgy, and then characterised in terms of defect formation and high-temperature mechanics, using ion-irradiation with TEM, and mechanical testing at high-brilliance synchrotron facilities. The ultimate aim is to produce results which may be used in the multiscale modelling campaigns that will inform design strategies and safety cases for DEMO and beyond.