Fusion Armor Using Ultra-Thick Tungsten Coatings

Tungsten is likely one of the supplies with essentially the most potential for fusion reactor plasma-facing supplies (PFC). The thermomechanical response of supplies in fusion units to PFC is mentioned within the Materials and Design Journal.

Study: Joining and cycling performance of ultra-thick tungsten coatings on patterned steel substrates for fusion armour applications. Image Credit: Bjoern Wylezich/Shutterstock.com

Tungsten as A Promising Material

Neutron irradiation responses of tungsten and tungsten alloys by nuclear fission reactors had been good. The connection between displacement harm and transmutation parts below neutron irradiation is offered primarily based on these investigations. Plasma floor contact is demonstrated utilizing He ion irradiation and tungsten.

(a) Schematic of the field assisted sintering technique (FAST). Sketch of (b) the patterned surface of the steel substrate, (c) the cross-section along the A-A line highlighted in (b), and (d) a magnified view of the region B circled in (c). Dimensions in mm.

(a) Schematic of the field-assisted sintering approach (FAST). Sketch of (b) the patterned floor of the metal substrate, (c) the cross-section alongside the A-A line highlighted in (b), and (d) a magnified view of the area B circled in (c). Dimensions in mm. Image Credit: Cui, W., et al, Materials and Design Journal

Due to its sturdy warmth conductivity, very increased melting and boiling level and low vapor stress, minimal bodily erosion fee, and low tritium retention, tungsten is a promising materials for plasma-facing functions in fusion reactors. Tungsten coatings would possibly doubtlessly be used to safeguard parts which might be uncovered to essentially the most excessive temperature and different reactor traits current on the diverter.

The use of ultra-thick millimeter-scale tungsten coating as expendable armor towards plasma hits within the diverter and elsewhere is normally considered essential to safeguard the underlying structural parts.

Tungsten Unfavorable Traits

However, tungsten’s interesting options are regrettably accompanied by unfavorable traits corresponding to excessive fabrication temperatures, low machinability, and oxidation susceptibility, all of which have an effect on manufacturing. Because tungsten has a considerably decrease coefficient of thermal enlargement than ferritic/martensitic steels like EUROFER97 or copper, attaching tungsten to underlying structural components, corresponding to ferritic/martensitic steels like EUROFER97 or copper, is a substantial difficulty.

Temperature excursions encountered throughout manufacturing and repair essentially end result within the technology of huge thermal enlargement mismatch stresses on the tungsten/metal contact on this mixture.

These strains, in addition to the latent pressure power related to them, may cause tungsten coatings debonding and the emergence of catastrophic fractures adjoining to the interface aircraft, leading to coating delamination. As a end result, though just a few hundred microns thick, typical tungsten coatings on iron have insufficient thermal biking capacity.

Repeat measurements of the particle size distribution and (inset) a SE micrograph showing the morphology of the as-received tungsten powders.

Repeat measurements of the particle dimension distribution and (inset) a SE micrograph displaying the morphology of the as-received tungsten powders. Image Credit: Cui, W., et al, Materials and Design Journal

Tungsten Coating Methods

Because of the massive distinction in melting factors, tungsten/metal becoming a member of is ceaselessly carried out independently from tungsten manufacture. Alternatively, a tungsten outer coating could be deposited immediately onto iron or different materials by way of a deposition methodology.

The deposition of skinny inter-leaved layers of tungsten and metal to supply a graded interface has been researched utilizing methods for thermal switch mismatch pressure management, corresponding to air or vacuum plasma spraying (APS, VPS) of tungsten within the liquid type or droplets. The purpose of the graded interface approach is to unfold thermally induced stresses over a bigger space of fabric and decrease the potential for failure for delamination of a discrete interface.

The field-aided sintering course of was used to create button-like tungsten on metal samples in cylindrical high-density graphite die (FAST). A chilly-pressed powder compact is heated in FAST by placing an electrical present between the die and powder materials, inflicting quick Joule heating. To facilitate sintering, a uniaxial stress of as much as 50 MPa is commonly utilized on the similar time.

To keep away from warmth loss all through FAST, the die was every coated in carbon felt. To forestall direct contact between the die/punch set and the sintered supplies, a prime and backside layer of graphite foil had been utilized contained in the die. At the bottom of the die, a metal disc substrate was positioned.

(a) SE micrograph showing a dark grey interlayer at the tungsten/steel interface, and (b-f) EDS spectra showing the distribution of Fe, W, Cr, O and Mn.

(a) SE micrograph displaying a darkish gray interlayer on the tungsten/metal interface, and (b-f) EDS spectra displaying the distribution of Fe, W, Cr, O and Mn. Image Credit: Cui, W., et al, Materials and Design Journal

The tungsten nanopowder was positioned into the die and pressed to encourage a uniform dispersion and infiltration throughout and thru the pre-sculptured steel surfaces after any EDM-induced floor oxide layer was eliminated by glass bead blasting and cleansing. Coatings of varied thicknesses had been created utilizing tungsten weights at 4, 6, and eight g.

Result of Experiment

The substrate is considerably thicker than the coating, leading to no considerable substrate deflection, and a considerably bigger thermal enlargement mismatch brought on bigger pressure power per unit quantity within the coating than within the substrate.

The pressure power per unit quantity of the coating and the substrate develop into extra comparable because the coating turns into thicker and reaches the thickness of the substrate, primarily based on the variations of their Young’s modulus; within the excessive, the coating is so thick that it successfully features because the substrate.

To restrict the in any other case disastrous impact of thermal enlargement mismatch stresses on coatings delamination, the sector aided sintering strategy was examined to supply thick, dense tungsten coating instantly onto pre-patterned AISI 416 metal substrates.

The methodology was efficient in producing tungsten coatings with deliberately generated segmentation fissures and equiaxed, randomly distributed grains of 200 nm. In the as-fabricated state and following warmth biking between 300 and 800 in a specialised furnace designed to mimic the temperature situations important to fusion plasma-facing functions, the coated segments remained firmly adhered to the substrate.


Cui, W., et al. (2021). Joining and biking efficiency of ultra-thick tungsten coatings on patterned metal substrates for fusion armour functions. Materials and Design Journal. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matdes.2021.110250

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