Carbides for Future Fission Environments (CAFFE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Earth Sciences

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.

Planned Impact

The current project has a clear strategy of engaging with a small but committed group of industry project partners: Westinghouse, Rolls Royce, National Nuclear Laboratory through their regular involvement in the project 12 meetings. The programme will involve fourteen academics, post-doctoral fellows and PhD students and so make a substantive presence by attendance at international meetings of the Collaboration for Advanced Research on Accident Tolerant Fuel (CARAT) and to the proposed Horizon 2020 Euratom project FALSTAFF. The core group of researchers and industrial partners will work together in assessing the suitability of the materials to operate in an environment of fast or thermal neutrons through engagement of members of the Cambridge Nuclear Energy MPhil (25 p.a) and the Imperial MSc in Nuclear Engineering (20 p.a.) by offering dissertation projects in the evalution of the neutronics of the materials using codes developed by NNL and supervised by NNL experts. The yearly meetings of the research consortium will be attended by an international expert in the field of nuclear materials who will provide advice and act as a peer previewer for the yearly report. This will also enhance the reach and impact of the research by engaging with the leaders of leading international research groups. As a finale to the research programme the consortium will host an international meeting on the suitability of these MAX type phases for nuclear applications at a Cambridge College. Impact funds will allow the invitation of 6 distinguished speakers to 'headline' three sessions a day of a two day conference. This should ensure very good attendance from the international community. Funds are also requested to facilitate the attendance of all the consortium participants at this conference. One session of the conference will be dedicated to a facilitated discussion between industrialists, consortium members and other academics on the viability of moving the materials discussed at the meeting to the next level of technological readiness (TRL4). This activity has the potential to enhance the standing of UK Nuclear Materials Science around the world.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We originally proposed to try and prepare materials based on the the very radiation tolerant, but brittle ZrC which is impossible to machine into components such as nuclear fuel cladding. Theoretically, by adding an element such as Al between the layers It is possible to make layered zirconium aluminium carbide MAX phases. These MAX phases have hybrid ceramic/metal properties and have been demonstrated as machinable .We have now prepared these materials at up to 80% yield. We are currently adding additional elements in electronic structure calculations to see which additives will improve the yield closer to 100%. Before we started it was not known if these phases could be made. It has become evident that it is difficult to produce >80% yield of the ZrAlC system MAX phases, substitution of Si onto the A site and Ti onto the M site (both known good MAX phase formers) has increased the yield but not beyond 90%.
Exploitation Route manufacture of novel nuclear fuel clad materials by fuel manufacturers
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy

 
Description We are now part of the Il Trovatore EU H2020 programme to extend our ideas on layered carbides for nuclear applications
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Energy
Impact Types Economic

 
Description 50% CDT studentship
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/L015900/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2019
 
Description H2020
Amount € 5,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 740415 - IL TROVATORE 
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 10/2017 
End 04/2022
 
Description Westinghouse R &D 50% studentship
Amount $60,000 (USD)
Funding ID EP/L015900/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2019
 
Title Research data supporting "Point defect formation in M2AlC (M = Zr,Cr) MAX phases and their tendency to disorder and amorphize" 
Description Input data to reproduce results in the following paper Point defect formation in M2AlC (M = Zr,Cr) MAX phases and their tendency to disorder and amorphize 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description CARAT - Collaboration for Advanced Research on Accident-tolerant Fuel 
Organisation Paul Scherrer Institute
Country Switzerland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Collaborator Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Impact Regular exhange of results and presentations.
Start Year 2015
 
Description CARAT - Collaboration for Advanced Research on Accident-tolerant Fuel 
Organisation Penn State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Collaborator Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Impact Regular exhange of results and presentations.
Start Year 2015
 
Description CARAT - Collaboration for Advanced Research on Accident-tolerant Fuel 
Organisation University of Tennessee
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Collaborator Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Impact Regular exhange of results and presentations.
Start Year 2015
 
Description CARAT - Collaboration for Advanced Research on Accident-tolerant Fuel 
Organisation University of Wisconsin-Madison
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Collaborator Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Impact Regular exhange of results and presentations.
Start Year 2015
 
Description CARAT - Collaboration for Advanced Research on Accident-tolerant Fuel 
Organisation Westinghouse
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Collaborator Contribution Attended anual meetings and exchanged results and expericence.
Impact Regular exhange of results and presentations.
Start Year 2015
 
Description CARAT research consortium 
Organisation Westinghouse
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Westinghouse
Collaborator Contribution studentship funding, secondary supervision of research students
Impact not yet
Start Year 2015
 
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 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 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 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 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