Fracture mechanisms in environmentally assisted cracking of austenitic steels


Verbeken Kim, (Universiteit Gent (UGent)),

SCK•CEN Mentor

Gavrilov Serguei,, +32 (0)14 33 30 67

Expert group

Structural Materials

Short project description

Environment-assisted cracking (EAC) is one of the most challenging phenomena to study in materials science due to complex nature and synergy in different fields as (electro-)chemistry, corrosion science, thermodynamics, fracture mechanics, materials microstructure, physics of surfaces and interfaces. Widely used in nuclear power austenitic stainless steel AISI 316L  depending on the hostile environment and loading conditions can demonstrate susceptibility to Stress Corrosion Cracking, Corrosion Fatigue, Hydrogen Embrittlement or Liquid Metal Embrittlement. The labs of SCK•CEN allows to perform mechanical tests with monotonic or cyclic load in various environments representative for different nuclear systems: air/vacuum (reference tests), high temperature water (representative for PWR systems), liquid metal (representative for MYRRHA, LFR reactor and for fusion systems). This unique opportunity allows to obtain fracture surfaces and perform their comparative study to identify the mechanisms of EAC. The obtained results will be used to evaluated various mechanisms suggested in literature as for instance hydrogen embrittlement based mechanism for corrosion fatigue of austenitic stainless steels in high temperature water. The obtained results will be also used for incorporation of corrosion fatigue effect in LBE environment for design of MYRRHA components.         

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

Master of sciences in engineering , Master of sciences

The candidate needs to have a background in

Physics , background in materials science is desirable

Estimated duration

4 years
Before applying, please consult the guidelines for application for PhD.