A significant section of the project will involve processing, development and joining of new oxide-dispersion-strengthened (ODS) alloys. Here, the expertise of the materials processing group at Oxford University will be linked with that of partners specialising in ODS materials at Liverpool University.
A key issue for doing useful and definitive work on ODS alloys will be to have control over the production, so that results from microscopy, mechanical testing and modelling in the project can be fed back into the production route
by modifying the composition and processing of the material studied in the light of test results and theoretical understanding. This will enable us to: (1) study specified variant “model” materials so as to test the conclusions derived from each round of experiment and modelling; (2) make small test batches of promising prototype alloys for evaluation for further development towards reactor applications.
For simple materials, our existing close links with materials suppliers will suffice, but for the ODS alloys, it will be necessary to establish a small in-house production facility. We will thus establish at Oxford University a new facility for the processing of small quantities of ferrous ODS alloys. Work on these alloys will then be used to benchmark results from ODS alloys obtained from collaborators.
The second aspect of the program will be aimed at understanding and optimising these materials for use in nuclear applications, with the highest possible thermal stability and creep properties. The project will also study radiation resistance of these alloys, especially how the dispersoid particles might act as sinks for radiation damage, helium and hydrogen, and joining methods (principally friction-stir welding).