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Towards insights of formation, growth and degradation of thin oxide films on steels in liquid lead

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Towards insights of formation, growth and degradation of thin oxide films on steels in liquid lead as applied for Lead-cooled Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

Heavy Liquid Metals (Pb, Pb-Bi, Pb-Li) are very attractive functional media for novel energetic installations like, Generation IV fission reactors, Accelerator-Driven Systems (MYRRHA), Fusion reactors, Concentrating Solar Energy power generators and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The Lead (Pb) cooled SMR is considered as one of the main directions for R&D at SCK CEN supported by the Belgium government. Therefore, potential compatibility issues between candidate steels and liquid Pb should be addressed and resolved.

The driving force of mass-transfer phenomena between solid metals, like steels, immersed in a liquid metal coolant is the natural dissolution of the former in the latter. Addition of oxygen to the liquid metal to enable formation of the protective oxide films on the surface of steels is the dominant strategy for corrosion mitigation presently in use. To retard corrosion, the oxide films should serve as mass transport barrier for diffusion of steel alloying elements towards the liquid metal. Thus, the study on the durability of the in-situ formed oxide layers is a key task within this PhD topic. The global aim is to contribute to the technologic developments supporting the successful implementation of the Pb-cooled SMRs concept.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

  • Master of sciences
  • Master of sciences in engineering

The candidate needs to have a background in

  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Materials science

Estimated duration

4 years

Expert group

Reactor Research & Engineering

SCK CEN Mentor

Schuurmans Paul
paul.schuurmans [at]
+32 (0)14 33 34 45

SCK CEN Co-mentor

Tsisar Valentyn
valentyn.tsisar [at]
+32 (0)14 33 30 92


Delaunois Fabienne
Fabienne.delaunois [at]