The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have commenced a £3m, five-year partnership to better understand the performance and behaviour of materials required for use in future commercial fusion powerplants.
The partnership will involve irradiating materials using neutrons at the ORNL High Flux Isotope Reactor, a DOE Office of Science user facility, located in the United States, and they will test these materials at ORNL and at UKAEA’s Materials Research Facility at Culham Campus, Oxfordshire. One of the major challenges in harnessing fusion energy is developing materials to cope in extreme environments.
This is because high energy neutrons and extreme temperatures can weaken or change the desirable mechanical, thermal, optical or electronic properties of materials, which can reduce the lifetime of fusion machines.
The research conducted with ORNL will attempt to understand how certain materials respond to irradiation over extended periods, in order to increase the longevity of the materials used.
Find out more about this exciting project.