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Size matters in European materials project | 19/02/2015
CCFE is one of the partners in a materials research project that has recently been awarded significant European funding.
The project will explore techniques that can accurately examine engineering components at a range of sizes and scales – right down to the nanoscale analysis carried out in Culham's Materials Research Laboratory (MRL).
To get a consistent picture of the properties of a material, researchers need to examine it at different length-scales. This new study will look at how changing the specimen size or the size of the probe used for testing affects the measured engineering properties. Test methods or design rules can then be developed that compensate for such ‘size effects'.
It is hoped that EU companies can use the results to design and manufacture better components with longer life and lower energy use. The work will also benefit the fusion and fission research sectors, where smaller samples represent less of a safety risk when examining the condition of components.
Led by the National Physical Laboratory, the project consortium brings together major industry players such as EDF, AMEC, AWE and Tata Steel with universities and research institutes around Europe. The grant of ~€1.8M has been made by European Association of National Metrology Institutes (EURAMET).
CCFE's involvement demonstrates the impact the MRL is making in the materials research community, and augurs well for the new Materials Research Facility that will open on the Culham site later this year.
CCFE's Chris Hardie commented: “Many partners within the project are concerned with using length-scale engineering to make stronger and lighter materials. Our research is focused on radiation, how this affects the length-scale of a material and how this can affect performance in a reactor; it's a great chance to share this common interest and work with the top European experts."
Alex Cackett, a Materials Scientist in CCFE's Materials Research Laboratory, added: “Collaborating in this project presents a good opportunity to demonstrate the various small-scale testing techniques we're capable of performing in the MRL. I'm looking forward to working with different materials and generating lots of data that could ultimately contribute to the design of innovative new materials for industry.”
Pictured: The Materials Research Laboratory at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.