Michael Daly

EngD Research Engineer in the School of Materials

Michael Daly

Background

I chose this role to further my interest in nuclear science and engineering after having completed an MSc at the University of Manchester.  I chose Manchester because the university was one of only a few universities offering an EngD in Nuclear Engineering.  It has a broad range of facilities and has a good reputation for engineering especially in Materials.  The Dalton Nuclear Institute is also located at the University with many industrial and business links.

Research

My research focuses on nuclear materials, specifically on nuclear reactor pressure vessel ferritic steel. The work investigates how the microstructure of the steel influences the fracture behaviour of a nuclear component. The fracture behaviour is analysed using scanning electron microscopes and X-ray tomography. The data is used to calibrate computer models to predict fracture.  The research focuses on nuclear materials, specifically on nuclear reactor pressure vessel ferritic steel. The work investigates how the microstructure of the steel influences the fracture behaviour of a nuclear component. The fracture behaviour is analysed using scanning electron microscopes and X-ray tomography. The data is used to calibrate computer models to predict fracture.

On a day to day basis, I spend 50% of my time on experimental work and 50% on computer modelling.  Some weeks are spent working or planning experiments. Other times are spent doing some modelling.  I also supervise a Masters Student.    I really enjoy bringing together experimental observations and computer modelling for industrial application. I have also been able to prove or disprove previous work on my topic which has shown the benefit of my PhD to the nuclear industry.

To raise the profile of my research I present my work within my research group (Material Performance Centre: MPC) and to other organisations. I also attend conferences where I present and publish the work. Also, my work requires a range of specialist equipment which requires me to move to different offices/ locations where I personally interact with other colleagues and discuss my work.  I work in an open plan office so it was quite easy to interact with fellow researchers/students and lecturers. I also attend optional seminars/ lectures from local or visiting professionals and academics. I also found it important trying to organise social events with my colleagues.  I work in an open plan office so it was quite easy to interact with fellow researchers/students and lecturers. I also attend optional seminars/ lectures from local or visiting professionals and academics. I also found it important trying to organise social events with my colleagues.  

Future

When I have completed my study I would like to undertake a Postdoc for 1-2 years but eventually I want to go into the energy industry, possibly within an R&D department.

The impact I hope my research will have on future landscapes is to bring novel techniques to analysing and understanding the fracture behaviour of critical components in the nuclear industry. These methods should be cost effective, practical and improve safety. 

A real ‘game-changer’ would be a greater number of nuclear power stations being built. This could include current generation 3 reactors but also more advanced designs such as generation 4 reactor.  Also, fusion reactors would be a real ‘game-changer’ in the coming decade.  All of these require great amounts of investment and analysis (especially for safety cases) where my current research would become very useful. 

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