Washington, October 26 : An American research team has created a new cast stainless steel that is 70 percent stronger than comparable steels.
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the U.S. ITER Project Office, the minds behind the innovation, are currently evaluating the new steel for use in the huge shield modules required by the ITER fusion device.
ITER as a multibillion-dollar international research and development project, aimed at determining the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power and enabling studies of self-heating burning plasmas.
It will require hundreds of tons of complex stainless steel components that must withstand the temperatures associated with being in the proximity of a plasma heated to more than 100 million degrees Celsius.
Jeremy Busby of the ORNL Materials Science and Technology Division has revealed that his team has utilized a science-based approach involving modelling, advanced analytical techniques and industrial experience, building upon past R and D 100 award-winning efforts with other cast steels.
He said that the availability of advanced materials property simulations at ORNL also played a significant role.
"We have used all the science tools available to us at the laboratory," he added.
Busby revealed that the effort began with the preparation of test steel compositions in small batches that would be scaled up to more representative geometries.
According to him, focus areas include improvements in fracture properties, tensile strength, microstructure properties, welds, impact properties, corrosion performance, and radiation resistance.
He hopes that the new material may be useful for ITER fusion device, being tweaked as part of an international review held earlier this year.
"We expect to hear fairly soon about how our cast stainless steel may be used in this groundbreaking project," he said.