Researchers at Texas A&M University have demonstrated the superior performance of the new oxide dispersion reinforced alloy. It will be used in fusion and fission reactors.
Lin Shao, PhD, professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, has worked with scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Hokkaido University to create a new generation of oxide dispersion strengthened alloys (ODS). They consist of a metal matrix with fine oxide particles dispersed in it.
Today they are some of the strongest and finest crafted metals in the field.
ODS alloys are composed of a combination of metals with small nanosized oxide particles. They are known for their high resistance to flow. This means that as the temperature rises, the materials retain their shape and do not deform. Many alloys with ODS can withstand temperatures up to 1,000 ° C. They are used in power generation and engines in aerospace engineering.
The field of nuclear technology is in dire need of reliable and durable materials for the manufacture of the main components of the reactors. The material must be highly durable, radiation-resistant and resistant to void swelling. The fact is that cavities are formed in materials under the influence of neutron radiation. This leads to mechanical damage.
Almost all commercial ODS alloys are based on the ferritic phase. Ferritic alloys, classified according to their crystal structure and metallurgical properties, have good ductility and acceptable heat resistance. However, the ferrite phase is the weakest in terms of its resistance to swelling. Therefore, most commercial ODS alloys do not meet the first line of defense.
Scientists have studied the problem by creating a fundamentally new type of material design. In them, oxide particles are incorporated into the martensitic phase rather than into the ferrite one. This is the best way to reduce void swelling.
The resulting ODS alloys are some of the most successful alloys developed in this field, both in terms of high temperature strength and swelling resistance.
Details of the complete project are published in the Journal of Nuclear Materials along with the most recent study. Since then, the team has done a lot of research and got the attention of the US Department of Energy and Nuclear Industry.