Modelling residual stress and mechanical performance of advanced joints for nuclear fusion

This fully funded PhD project is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the realisation of nuclear fusion.

Start date
1 October 2022
4 years
Application deadline
Funding source
University of Surrey
Funding information
  • Full UK tuition fees (£4,500) with automatic increase to UKRI rate each year.
  • A stipend of £18,609 per annum for 21/22, which will increase each year in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) rate.
  • Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £3,000


Nuclear fusion has the potential to offer sustainable and clean electricity. However, the engineering challenges associated with design, manufacturing and structural integrity of high value-added fusion components is yet to be overcome. A typical component is the breeding blanket, both Eurofer97- Eurofer97 welded similar joints and Tungsten (W) - Eurofer97 brazed dissimilar joints that utilise complex materials systems, complicated joining geometry and fabrication processes. Residual stress is a side effect inherited from joining processes, such as welding and brazing, and can limit the service life of the components. To complete design of the next fusion reactor by ~2030, it is timely to apply state-of-the-art techniques to examine and create fundamental understandings of the critical residual stress and mechanical behaviour of the welded and brazed Eurofer97. These can be enhanced with finite-element method to provide systematic means of evaluating a wide range of mechanical behaviour of similar and dissimilar joints for nuclear fusion. The objective of this project consists of three aspects: 1) Develop finite-element model to simulate the joining process and capture the residual stress. 2) Evaluate the effect of residual stress on the subsequent mechanical behaviour and improve the modelling with the consideration of any new phenomenon/mechanism. 3) Examine how the residual stress can be mitigated to enhance the mechanical behaviour of the joints. 

This interdisciplinary PhD project allows close collaboration between the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at Surrey, Advanced Engineering Materials team in National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Culham Centre for Fusion Energy/United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (CCFE/UKAEA) to create new knowledge and address challenging problems for fusion materials. This project will provide a significant contribution to the integration of materials, joining technique and structural integrity assessment of the next fusion power plant.

Eligibility criteria

This project is suitable for UK students (only UK fees covered). EU/International students are considered only if they can demonstrate exceptional achievements (e.g., publications, excellent academic performance, prizes, etc.).

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least an Upper Second Bachelor’s degree, and preferably a Master’s degree, in an appropriate discipline (e.g. engineering, material sciences, physics, chemistry or a related subject).

If English is not the first language, IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent) is required, with no sub-test score less than 6.

How to apply

Application should be made through the University portal via our program page.

Application enquiries are recommended prior to submission and can be directly made to Dr Tan Sui (

Application deadline

Contact details

Tan Sui

15 AA 02

Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689670


Hannah Zhang



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