Materials for energy production
energy production

Energy production

Material science, applied to energy production, covers a vast field of activities and topics. At CMAM, there is, since 2004, a group focused in the analysis and modification of advanced materials for fusion and fission reactors.

Functional and structural materials of nuclear reactors are exposed to a hostile environment as a consequence of the intense radiation. In particular, in fusion reactors, the hot plasma generates a high flux of charged particles, high-energy neutrons and gamma rays, which will affect not only the materials of the first wall, but also other more distant equipments such as plasma heating or diagnostic systems. This irradiation, via atomic displacement phenomena and ionizing processes, will produce a number of defects in the structure of the materials, affecting their physical properties at different scales. In addition, the nuclear reactions induced by the neutrons will generate transmutation products (impurities) that may change the physical properties of the materials, and therefore, affect their reliability. The high temperatures and the intense magnetic fields may also contribute to property changes.

The use of ion beam accelerators is considered as an efficient and useful tool to study experimentally the effects of particle irradiation in metallic alloys and functional materials, even when the involved processes are different to those of neutron irradiation.

The defects created in a material structure during irradiation give rise to the modification of its properties, due to the changes on the crystalline structure, being the most important ones sputtering-erosion, swelling, thermomechanical, dielectric and optical properties and changes in light ions solubility and diffusion.