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Culham leading development of international mechanical testing standards | 20/03/2017
CCFE's Materials Technology Group is helping to standardise the use of new mechanical testing methods that could have an impact in the nuclear industry around the world.
‘Small punch' is a novel testing technique that uses a small (8mm diameter / 0.5mm thick) disk sample to probe the mechanical details of materials. It requires vastly reduced volumes of materials compared to more conventional techniques. Small punch has been adopted in the nuclear industry as a way of monitoring material degradation over time, but the lack of common testing standards means comparisons between different laboratories are impossible.
In the past year, the Materials Technology Group have engaged with leading institutions using small punch tests, to encourage standardisation. Culham researchers are now working with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the American Society for Testing and Materials on the development of standards.
Mike Gorley, Materials Technology Programme Manager, said:
“These are early, but important, steps on a long journey towards the use of small punch testing of irradiated samples to inform the design of future fusion reactors.
“The development of a robust standard will be crucial for international and regulator acceptance of the technique. If it gets approved it could be important in making reactor design faster and cheaper by reducing the costs and time associated with materials testing, and it will be critical for testing irradiated materials.”
Mark Richardson, a Materials Technologist who is running many of the tests at Culham, added: “We are very early in the process, but it is satisfying to think that our efforts will help cement a new method of testing within the international community. This could have truly far-reaching uses within so many industries beyond fusion. There is a long way to go and much uncertainty, but it's an exciting project.”
Image: Culham's small punch testing rig in action