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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X024091/1
Title: Building new collaborations to develop highly radiation resistant materials for fusion power
Principal Investigator: Hofmann, Dr F
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Brookhaven National Laboratory Commonwealth Fusion Systems Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stanford University University of Leoben (Montanuniversität)
Department: Engineering Science
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Overseas Travel Grants (OTGS)
Starts: 01 April 2023 Ends: 30 September 2024 Value (£): 41,043
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Fusion power promises an environmentally friendly, intrinsically safe and almost limitless energy supply. The scientific feasibility of fusion power generation has been demonstrated, for example by recent record-breaking fusion power generation by the JET tokamak at UKAEA. The big challenge now is to make fusion energy commercially viable. This will require reactors that can operate reliably and safely for tens of years. Current materials for fusion reactor armour and structural armour components are anticipated to show substantial degradation of mechanical properties and dramatic evolution of key physical properties within a few days to months of reactor operation. To make fusion power a reality, new, highly radiation and temperature resistant materials with stable properties are urgently needed.

Nano-structured materials have shown some promise for intense irradiation environments, as the dense network of interfaces within them can act as an efficient sink for irradiation damage. However, these materials generally show poor thermal stability and reduced thermal conductivity. An exciting prospect is to design new nano-structured materials that combine enhanced radiation resistance, good thermal stability, suitable mechanical properties and high thermal conductivity.

To tackle this challenge a multi-disciplinary team bringing together experts in nano-structured material design and processing, microscopy techniques for probing nano-scale structure and insitu monitoring of property and structure evolution is essential. This must be further underpinned by computational input from experts in material simulations from the nano- to the macro-scale.

The goal of this project is to assemble a team to tackle this challenge. It will be built around my group's expertise in the characterisation of structure and properties of fusion reactor materials. I will visit world-leading groups in (a) the insitu study of material structure at longer length-scales and at higher strain rates, (b) environments for testing new materials under reactor-relevant conditions, (c) the manufacture of nano-structured materials using severe plastic deformation approaches, and (d) the simulation of fusion reactor materials and their in-service evolution. The goal of these visits is to form new connections, knowledge exchange on fusion reactor materials and to develop ideas for joint future projects. To ensure this research meets industrial needs and challenges, I will also visit key industrial players in fusion power: Commonwealth Fusion Systems, UKAEA, Tokamak Energy, and First Light Fusion.

These visits will be combined with attendance of a key academic conference to disseminate my group's work exploring the degradation of current fusion reactor materials.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk