Carbides for Future Fission Environments (CAFFE)

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

Summary (4000 characters)

This project will bring together eight investigators from world leading research and nuclear research universities together with three post-doctoral fellows and three PhD students to investigate zirconium carbide ceramic materials for their potential application in advanced nuclear reactor systems. These materials will be required to operate at high temperatures and suffer large numbers of atomic displacements due to radiation damage and yet will be required to resist corrosion and provide longer lifetimes than current materials. Following recommendations from international reports on the development of new materials for advanced fission reactors, the most modern techniques in materials modelling and characterisation and testing will be brought to bear on these new materials. Phase diagrams will be calculated for new proposed layered zirconium carbide ceramics to guide the preparation of new phases. These new phases and a few already known phases will be characterised on multiple scales with 13C nuclear magnetic resonance, transmission electron and synchrotron diffraction and lab-based x-ray tomography both before and after their irradiation and corrosion testing at the National Nuclear Users Facility/Dalton Cumbria Facility. The researchers will collaborate with leading players in the nuclear materials industry to evaluate the neutronics and manufacturability of these new materials to assess their potential to be carried forward to later stages of development. An international meeting will be hosted at the end of the programme to highlight progress made in the development of these materials to both to the wider industry and to international academic groups to increase the profile of the UK Nuclear Materials community in Generation IV and Generation III+ nuclear research.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have discovered a series of new complex carbide ceramics and examined their potential use as cladding for accident tolerant nuclear fuels. While the bulk ceramics are not suitable in this application some of the complex carbide coatings we developed show promise. Evaluation of different quaternary Zr-based MAX phase systems were studied and it was found that Si and Ti additions help to synthesize Zr3AlC2 with yields above 59 wt.% and as high as 95 wt.%. In addition, it was found that Zr2AlC and Zr3AlC2 shows a complete solid solubility with Ti2AlC and Ti3AlC2 in the Zr-Ti-Al-C quaternary system, respectively. It was also found that powder processing in O environments is detrimental compared to powder processing in Ar environments, as for example, if levels of O are above 0.6 wt% on the precursor ZrH2 powders, Zr3Al0.9Si0.1C2 MAX phase does not form. Therefore, thermal treatments to try to reduce O levels on ZrH2 precursor powders are ongoing. First MAX phase with 5 components (Zr2.5Ti0.5Al0.81Si0.1C2) was discovered and resulted in an improvement of the yield compared to the quaternary MAX phase homologous (from 59 wt. % to 81 wt. %). This approach is currently being considered to be extended to other Zr-based MAX phase materials.
Exploitation Route We are working with the nuclear industry through a consortium to examine potential application in accident tolerant nuclear fuels.
Sectors Energy

 
Description Being examined by the nuclear industry for accident tolerant fuel costings.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Energy
Impact Types Economic

 
Description EPSRC UK-Japan Nuclear Research Call - Advanced Waste Management Strategies for High Dose Spent Absorbents
Amount £435,120 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2015 
End 03/2018
 
Description Sabbatical stay at Imperial for Michel Barsoum of Drexel University, USA 
Organisation Drexel University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research collaboration with Michel Barsoum, the world leader in MAX phase ceramics including carbides.
Collaborator Contribution Spent 3 months at Imperial College in London, taught courses, gave lectures at other universities and joined the CAFFE international advisory board.
Impact 1 publication so far, others in preparation.
Start Year 2015
 
Description D Horlait, Keynote Talk, 14th ECERS conference, (Toledo), Spain. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Keynote Talk, Development of MAX phases for high-temperature protection of nuclear fuel cladding in accident conditions 14th ECERS conference, June 2015 Toledo, Spain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description D Horlait,Keynote Talk, 39th ICACC conference, Daytona Beach, (Florida) USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact • Keynote Talk, Synthesis, characterization and oxidation testing of MAX phases in the Cr-Ti-Al-C system and of Zr2AlC based compounds, 39th ICACC conference, January 2015 Daytona Beach, FL, USA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Invited Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Intl. Ceramics Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact "Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases for future fission environments". National conference of Serbian ceramic society. September 2016. Belgrade (Serbia) Plenary lecture
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description S. A. Humphry-Baker, AMPT Annual meeting 2015, (Madrid), Spain 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Microstructural evolution in helium implanted cermets, S. A. Humphry-Baker, G. Greaves, J Hinks, S. E. Donnelly, G. D. W. Smith and W. E. Lee in Symposium: Characterisation and modelling of radiation effects across classes of materials: Tungsten, AMPT Annual meeting 2015, Madrid, Spain 14th December 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Seminar by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Enabling materials for extreme environments". Department of Materials Science Engineering. Missouri S&T University. February 2017. Rolla (USA).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact "Ultra-fast and energy efficient sintering by electric current concentration/localization". Invited lecture for my award as Best young researcher 2014 by the Royal Academy of Science of Seville. April 2016. Seville (Spain).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at 12th Pacific Rim Conferene on Ceramic and Glass Technology (PACRIM), May 21-26 2017 Waikoloa, Hawaii (USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Zrn+1AlCn and Zrn+1SiCn MAX phases for future fission environments: Challenges and limitations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at 15th Conference & Exhibition of the European Ceramic Society. July 9-13, 2017. Budapest (Hungary) . 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A study on the feasability of Zrn+1AlCn and Zrn+1SiCn MAX phases for future fission environments
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Accident Tolerant Fuel CARAT consortium meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact "Stabilization of Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases for fission environments" ATF CARAT meeting September 2016. Boise (Idaho) Talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Accident Tolerant Fuels CARAT consortium meeting 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Introduction to EPSRC CAFFE consortium goals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Int Conf. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Advances and challenges in Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases for future fission reactors". 41 ICACC. January 2017. Daytona Beach (USA).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Intl Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Stabilization of Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases: Issues and achievements". MS&T 2016. October 2016. Salt Lake City (USA) Talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Intl. Ceramics Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Challenges to improve fission reactors safety by Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases". National conference of Spanish Ceramic Society. October 2016. Seville (Spain) Talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Materials Science & Technology (MS&T17), October 8-12 2017, Pittsburgh (USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Oxidation and corrosion resistance of Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases for future fission environments
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at Structural Materials in Innovative Nuclear Systems IV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Stabilization of Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases by partial substitutions in the quaternary systems (Zr,M)n+1AlCn and Zrn+1(Al,A')Cn. Structural Materials in Innovative Nuclear Systems IV (SMINS IV). July 2016 .Manchester (UK).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact "Advances and challenges in Zrn+1AlCn MAX phases for fission reactors". 1 DRAC meeting. December 2016. London (UK).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Talk by Eugenio Zapata-Solvas at conference on Non-stoichiometric Compounds IV 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Synthesis and sintering of ZrC1-x powders with variable stoichiometry (0
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description conference presentation in Milan 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation on progress in identifying carbon vacancy distributions in Zirconium Carbide ceramics for nuclear applications
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017