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Ductile-Phase-Toughened Tungsten for Plasma-Facing Materials

  • Author(s): Cunningham, Kevin Hawkins
  • Advisor(s): Odette, G Robert
  • et al.

A variety of processing approaches were employed to fabricate ductile-phase-toughened (DPT) tungsten (W) composites. Mechanical testing and analytical modeling were used to guide composite development. This work provides a basis for further development of W composites to be used in structural divertor components of future fusion reactors.

W wire was tested in tension, showing significant ductility and strength. Coatings of copper (Cu) or tungsten carbide (WC) were applied to the W wire via electrodeposition and carburization, respectively. Composites were fabricated using spark plasma sintering (SPS) to consolidate W powders together with each type of coated W wire. DPT behavior, e.g. crack arrest and crack bridging, was not observed in three-point bend testing of the sintered composites.

A laminate was fabricated by hot pressing W and Cu foils together with W wires, and subsequently tested in tension. This laminate was bonded via hot pressing to thick W plate as a reinforcing layer, and the composite was tested in three-point bending. Crack arrest was observed along with some fiber pullout, but significant transverse cracking in the W plate confounded further fracture toughness analysis.

The fracture toughness of thin W plate was measured in three-point bending. W plates were brazed with Cu foils to form a laminate. Crack arrest and crack bridging were observed in three-point bend tests of the laminate, and fracture resistance curves were successfully calculated for this DPT composite.

An analytical model of crack bridging was developed using the basis described by Chao in previous work by the group. The model uses the specimen geometry, matrix properties, and the stress-displacement function of a ductile reinforcement (“bridging law”) to calculate the fracture resistance curve (R-curve) and load-displacement curve (P-D curve) for any test specimen geometry. The code was also implemented to estimate the bridging law of an arbitrary composite using R-curve data.

Finally, a parametric study was performed to quantitatively determine the necessary mechanical properties of useful toughening reinforcements for a DPT W composite. The analytical model has a broad applicability for any DPT material.

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