James Marrow

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James Martin Professor of Energy Materials
Oxford Martin School
Department of Materials
Parks Road
Oxford    OX1 3PH
+44 (0)1865 273938
+44 (0) 1865 273700

Summary of Interests

My research is focussed on the degradation of structural materials and the role of microstructure. A significant proportion of this work is related to materials utilised in the nuclear industry. This work was been funded by organisations including EPSRC, Rolls-Royce, British Energy, EdF, the Health and Safety Executive (Nuclear Installations Inspectorate), Ministry of Defence and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. A key aspect is the investigation of fundamental mechanisms of damage accumulation using novel materials characterisation techniques. This has concentrated recently on computed X-ray tomography and strain mapping by digital image correlation, which I now plan to apply to studies of the degradation of Generation IV nuclear materials such as graphite and silicon carbide composites.

The next generation of nuclear power systems must be demonstrably safer, proliferation resistant and efficient. They will not provide power for some decades to come. Their development requires new high temperature fuels and structural materials with resistance to irradiation. This can only be achieved through fundamental understanding of materials microstructure and the mechanisms of materials ageing.

Research in engineering materials for energy generation is not a quick-fix topic. New materials take from 15-20 years to come into service, and then are expected to be in service for 40-80 years. The key physical mechanisms that determine manufactured performance, and how these properties age in service, are not very well understood, and mistakes in materials selection can have enormous financial and social implications.

Prediction is a major challenge, and deep understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of materials aging is essential to identify and avoid potential "cliff-edges" in future materials performance.

Current Research Projects

Three-dimensional damage nucleation in nuclear materials
Professor J. Marrow, D. James (James Martin Research Fellow)
This project, funded by the Oxford Martin School, aims to develop methods for quantitative three-dimensional characterisation of damage nucleation in advanced nuclear materials (e.g. graphite and SiC-SiC composites), using high-resolution tomography and digital image correlation. As well as researching relationships between microstructure, stress state and damage nucleation and coalescence, the project aims to improve test methods for strength measurement and structural integrity assessment in advanced nuclear materials. The project starts in November 2010, and is closely aligned with the European Energy Research Alliance Joint Program (EERA JP) on Structural Materials for Innovative Nuclear Systems.