The TMS 2022 Conference
TMS 2022 is a conference that also goes by the name of the TMS Annual Meeting & Exhibition. TMS stands for The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. The TMS organisation an international professional society fostering the exchange of ideas in materials science and engineering.
Every year, TMS aims to bring a multi-disciplinary mix of engineers, scientists, business leaders, and other professionals in the minerals, metals, and materials fields. This year, the conference was held in person in Anaheim, California.
Research presentations from the Nuclear Futures group
In total, five Nuclear Futures academics and students presented their research at TMS 2022 which took place over February 27–March 3, 2022 at the Anaheim Convention Center & Anaheim Marriott Hotel.
Mechanical Behavior and Degradation of Advanced Nuclear Fuel and Structural Materials symposium
Dr. Simon Middleburgh was appointed as one of the six organisers for the Mechanical Behavior and Degradation of Advanced Nuclear Fuel and Structural Materials symposium.
Both Dr. Michael Rushton and Dr. Simon Middleburgh chaired sessions in this session. The aim of the symposium was to futher the understanding of of the mechanical behaviour and performance of nuclear fuel and structural materials in extreme environments.
Research presentations from the Nuclear Futures group
Dr. Michael Rushton’s presentation
Dr. Rushton’s presentation discussed the fact that actinide oxides possessing a fluorite crystal structure are representative of the most widely deployed class of nuclear fuel materials. Understanding how their thermophysical properties evolve due to variables such as temperature, composition and radiation damage is important for achieving optimal usage. Dr. Rushton discussed how atomistic simulation provides a powerful tool to predict the properties of these materials.
It was shown that simulations of specific heat capacity, melting behaviour, thermal conductivity and diffusion behaviour could be achieved using the CRG many-body model. The CRG many-body model celebrates its 8th birthday this year – the talk gave a retrospective view of the successes of the model and highlighted were there was still room for improvement in the atomistic description of materials using classical potential models.
Dr. Simon Middleburgh’s presentation
Dr. Middleburgh discussed his work based on ATFs (Advanced Technology Fuels) that are being considered to improve the operational characteristics of nuclear reactors, including light water reactors and lead-cooled fast reactors. The talk focussed on a uranium dioxide based composite fuel system. It was discussed how atomic scale simulations as well as neutronic modelling had been perfomed while manufacture and design of the fuel had been progressing based on the predictions of the simulations, including the use of novel manufacturing methods based on spray drying.
Chris Moore’s presentation
Chistopher Moore, a PhD student gave his talk based on the potential fusion material applications of the TiZrNbHfTa high entropy alloy (HEA). Through density functional theory calculations to analyse the thermodynamic properties of the materials, he discussed properties including vacancy formation energies and hydrogen absorption. His work showed that hydrogen interstitials preferentially adopt tetrahedral sites at both low and high hydrogen concentrations and were also found to promote vacancy formation within the HEA.
Chris also discussed his modelling of hydride decomposition and hydrogen release over a range of temperatures which he hopes will further our knowledge of how future fusion materials can be applied in Tokamak-style reactors.
Read a blog post detailing more about Chris’ fusion materials work here.
Gareth Stephens’ presentation
Gareth Stephens, another PhD student, gave his talk focusing on identifying the mechanism in which Li accelerates zirconium alloy corrosion. This work aims to allow new alloying additions to be considered and new water chemistry regimes to be investigated, improving the efficiency and performance of future nuclear power reactors. It was discussed how Gareth used density functional theory to investigate the most stable accomodation mechanisms for Li in ZrO2 at the atomic scale through the binding properties of valance electrons.
Brouwer diagrams built using Fermi-Dirac statistics were used to predict the nature of defect structures within his chosen material. It was discussed how experimental data was used to corroborate the most stable accommodation mechanisms of Li in ZrO2. As a corollary to this, The solubility of Li in bulk ZrO2 is predicted to be low indicating that accelerated corrosion due to bulk Li accommodation is unlikely.
Jack Wilson’s presentation
Finally, PhD student Jack Wilson discussed his research on high entropy alloy interlayers for Advanced Technology Fuel coatings. Part of Jack’s research concerns the zirconium-water reaction, which is of interest particularly in light water reactors, especially during a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) where cladding outer temperatures are significantly higher than during normal operation. By exploring HEAs, Jack aims to find materials that would be suitable to act as a coating for ATFs and subsequently hinder the zirconium-water reaction.
Through investigation of HEAs using density functional theory and atomic scale modeling, the information gleamed aims to help us choose more optimal materials for use within light water reactors. The key properties of HEAs including thermal expansion, interdiffusion and thermodynamics were studied to ensure that brittle phase formation is avoided. Jack’s research has shown that simulation can reliably predict thermal expansion of a range of BCC crystal structure HEAs.