Development of Nanostructured Tungsten Based Composites for Energy Applications
Sammanfattning: Tungsten (W) based materials can be used in fusion reactors due to several advantages. Different fabrication routes can be applied to develop tungsten materials with intended microstructure and properties for specific application including nanostructured grades. Therein, innovative chemical routes are unique in their approach owing numerous benefits. This thesis summarizes the development of W-based composites dispersed-strengthened by rare earth (RE) oxides and their evaluation for potential application as plasma facing armour material to be used in fusion reactor. Final material development was carried out in two steps; a) fabrication of nanostructured metallic tungsten powder dispersed with RE-oxides and b) powder sintering into bulk oxide-dispersed strengthened (ODS) composite by spark plasma process. With the help of advanced characterization tools applied at intermediate and final stages of the material development, powder fabrication and sintering conditions were optimized. The aim was to achieve a final material with a homogenous fine microstructure and improved properties, which can withstand under extreme conditions of high temperature plasma.Two groups of starting materials, synthesized via novel chemical methods, having different compositions were investigated. In the first group, APT-based powders doped with La or Y elements in similar ways, had identical particles’ morphology (up to 70 μm). The powders were processed into nanostructured composite powders under different reducing conditions and were characterized to investigate the effects on powder morphology and composition. The properties of sintered tungsten materials were improved with dispersion of La2O3 and Y2O3 in the respective order. The oxide dispersion was less homogeneous due to the fact that La or Y was not doped into APT particles. The second group, Ydoped tungstic acid-based powders synthesized through entirely different chemistry, contained nanocrystalline particles and highly uniform morphology. Hydrogen reduction of doped-tungstic acid compounds is complex, affecting the morphology and composition of the final powder. Hence, processing conditions are presented here which enable the separation of Y2O3 phase from Y-doped tungstic acid.Nevertheless, the oxide dispersion reduces the sinterability of tungsten powders, the fabricated nanostructured W-Y2O3 powders were sinterable into ultrafine ODS composites at temperatures as low as 1100 °C with highly homogeneous nano-oxide dispersion at W grain boundaries as well as inside the grain. The SPS parameters were investigated to achieve higher density with optimum finer microstructure and higher hardness. The elastic and fracture properties of the developed ODS-W have been investigated by micro-mechanical testing to estimate the materials’ mechanical response with respect to varying density and grain size. In contrast from some literature results, coarse grained ODS-W material demonstrated better properties. The developed ODS material with 1.2 Y2O3 dispersion were finally subjected to high heat flux tests in the electron beam facility “JUDITH-1”. The samples were loaded under ELM-like thermal-shocks at varying base temperatures up to an absorbed power density of 1.13 GW/m2, for armour material evaluation. Post mortem characterizations and comparison with other reference W grades, suggest lowering the oxide contents below 0.3 wt. % Y2O3.As an overview of the study conducted, it can be concluded that innovative chemical routes can be potential replacement to produce tungsten based materials of various composition and microstructure, for fusion reactor applications. The methods being cheap and reproducible, are also easy to handle for large production at industrial scale.
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