Minimising nuclear fusion waste – MRes Scholarship

Minimising nuclear fusion waste

sponsored by Tokamak Energy and KESS 2 at Bangor University

Project ID: BUK2212

Annual Stipend: £11,586

Application Deadline: 1st April 2020

Project Description:

Nuclear fusion produces high energy neutrons that have the potential to cause damage to the fusion chamber vacuum vessel and supporting structures. These high energy neutrons will also activate materials resulting in the production of radioactive waste.  Unlike the radioactive waste produced from nuclear fission, the inventory will are no radioactive “fission products” or  long-lived minor actinides, but there will be a need to minimise the production of activated materials and effectively manage the associated radioactive waste.

Tungsten alloys are currently the plasma-facing wall material of choice, although alternatives are being considered. Dr. Iuliia Ipatova has spent her research career investigating the potential of alloying tungsten to improve its in-reactor behaviour. Pure tungsten has been observed to form a fuzz (more properly called “nano-tendril bundles” when interacting with nuclear fusion plasmas. This fuzz can absorb some of the 3H fuel and contains tungsten neutron activation products, leaving it radioactive and mobile – an issue for safety.

Two research efforts will be performed as part of this Masters project:

  1. To add to the international body of work to try and limit fuzz formation on tungsten alloys –by the careful choice of microstructure and alloying additions (to be considered computationally and through targeted experiments in the Nuclear Future Institute’s MERLIN lab and, where appropriate, at the Dalton Cumbria Facility).
  2. Investigate potential routes to treat or capture the mobile tungsten fuzz into a waste-form in-situ within the reactor. Dr. Michael Rushton and Dr. Simon Middleburgh have experience in designing waste-forms for fission products from conventional nuclear applications that will be re-purposed to be considered for fusion energy applications.


Understanding radioactive wastes that can arise from a nuclear fusion programme, and how they can be effectively managed is essential if mistakes of nuclear fission energy programme are not to be repeated.  Investigating the potential activation of candidate materials likely to be used in fusion power stations will enable the optimal materials to be developed and selected and help identify suitable radioactive waste management strategies that will minimise the burdens on future generations.

Applicants with backgrounds in engineering, physics, chemistry or related subjects are encouraged to apply.

Project state date: Ideally before 1st August 2020
Please apply by sending a CV and cover letter to Dr. Simon Middleburgh ( and cc to Penny Dowdney (

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in the Convergence Area of Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.