go to top scroll for more


Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/H018921/1
Title Materials for fusion & fission power
Status Completed
Energy Categories Nuclear Fission and Fusion(Nuclear Fission, Nuclear supporting technologies) 50%;
Nuclear Fission and Fusion(Nuclear Fusion) 50%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Metallurgy and Materials) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Dr SG Roberts
No email address given
University of Oxford
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 01 December 2009
End Date 30 September 2015
Duration 70 months
Total Grant Value £5,833,079
Industrial Sectors Aerospace; Manufacturing; Energy; Defence and Marine
Region South East
Programme Energy Research Capacity, Materials, Mechanical and Medical Eng
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr SG Roberts , Materials, University of Oxford (99.989%)
  Other Investigator Dr AJ Wilkinson , Materials, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Professor P Grant , Materials, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Professor G Smith , Materials, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Dr PAJ Bagot , Materials, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Dr S Lozano-Perez , Materials, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Dr D Armstrong , Materials, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Professor FPE (Fionn ) Dunne , Materials, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Professor SE (Steve ) Donnelly , Sch of Computing and Engineering, University of Huddersfield (0.001%)
Dr A R Jones , Engineering, University of Liverpool (0.001%)
Professor GJ Tatlock , Engineering, University of Liverpool (0.001%)
Dr EAL (Emmanuelle ) Marquis , Materials and Engineering, University of Michigan, USA (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , EURATOM/CCFE (0.000%)
Project Contact , CEA (Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique), France (0.000%)
Project Contact , Rolls-Royce PLC (0.000%)
Web Site
Objectives Linked to grant EP/I007768/1
Abstract It has been predicted that by 2012 the UK's electricity generating capacity will no longer be enough to meet demand. Reliable new sources of multi-gigawatt electrical power will be vital for social stability and economic strength. Nuclear fusion and advanced fission power plants have been proposed, with possible years for operation in the range 2025 (advanced fission) to 2050 (fusion). Thesehavethe potential for large-scale, clean, CO2-free power generation for generations.However, theywill not be viable unless some very difficult materials science problems are solved. The structural materials from which the power plants' core components will be built must have high strength and toughness at high temperatures, and retain good properties for decades despite being subjected to radiationdamage from high-energy neutrons. The neutrons knock atoms from their positions, "scrambling" the materials' carefully-designed microstructures, and produce many small crystal defects which make the materials more brittle. The neutrons, unlike those in current nuclear power plants, have enough energy to cause transmutation reactions: this causes two problems. First, many elements ordinarily usedin strong alloys cannot be used, because their transmutation products are highly radioactive for thousands of years, so we must design new strong alloys using a very restricted range of elements. Second, helium is produced in most reactions, and adds to the embrittling effects of the radiation damage.There are no fast-neutron facilities, and even slow-neutron test reactors are very expensive to use and take years for a single "run". To develop the critical new materials quickly, we need to act now. We can use computer modelling of how the radiation-induced defects are formed, how they behave and how they interact to change material properties. Experimentally, ion irradiation can be used to produce the same damage types as from fast neutrons, in a few hoursand without producing hard-to-handle radioactive specimens; but the amount of material affected is tiny - a layer 1/1000 mm thick. We have developed new techniques to test specimens made in these thin layers, and can use advanced microscopy to look at the radiation damage. This project will develop modelling and experiment further, and use them together so that experiments provide information to modelsand test their predictions.Researchers at Oxford, Liverpool and Salford Universities, UKAEAFusion and the CEA will work together in a large project to form specialist small research teams developing innovative modelling and experimental methods, working on a problems critical to the applications of new alloys of steel and tungsten: how radiation damage can concentrate some elements at grain boundaries, making them brittle; how radiation effects on nanometre-sized oxide particles included in the alloys for high-temperature strength and to "soak up" helium and hydrogen.The project will make major advances in innovative experimental and modelling techniques operating at the "microstructural" scale where materials properties are determined, and it will verify the models'predictions against experimental data. Its success will significantly speed development of the new materials that are essential for the commercial realisation of fusion and new-generation fission power. It will help the UK to lead scientific developments in new materials and to train future experts for future fission and fusion programmes. The developments are also relevant to other important structural integrity issues (e.g. embrittlement,ductile-brittle transitions, stress corrosion cracking, and alloy strength).The project's leaders currently head world-leading research efforts in the areas which will form this integrated project. They are well-linked into the international fusion and UK fission communities, representatives of which will advise on the programme'sdirection andwill speedily implement its results
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 24/11/09