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VUB AVN PhD in nuclear safety and radiation protection goes to Tim Rubben

The phenomenon of hydrogen induced cracking (HIC) of steel is subject of ongoing debate. Presumed hydrogen induced cracks are playing a key role in the ongoing discussions about the pressure vessels of the nuclear reactors in Doel and Tihange (Belgium). HIC is also limiting the use of high strength steels in automotive transport, off-shore marine applications and energy storage devices.

The successful PhD granted by Association Vinçotte Nuclear (AVN) to Berk Ozdirik from SURF in 2014 allowed to develop electrochemical methods to reliably monitor the interaction of hydrogen in various alloys in the context of hydrogen induced cracking of steel. The previous project sponsored by AVN will serve as a starting point in terms of the methods for the new doctoral project, but the objective is to tackle the surface as a totally new element in the story and finally prevent the uptake of hydrogen in the steel.

The financing of PhD scholarships has been structuralized into an AVN-Fund since 2018 with the purpose to sponsor 4-yearly doctoral projects every 4 years. Ir. Tim Rubben, who made his master thesis in the SURF research group and graduated with great distinction, will now start a PhD that will contribute to solving the HIC problem, with Prof. dr. ir. Iris De Graeve of the SURF Research Group (Electrochemical and Surface Engineering) as his promotor.