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Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)

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High-Temperature Composite Materials

Plasma facing materials for thermonuclear fusion devices

Team 2014

Controlled thermonuclear nuclear fusion is getting more and more attention as a long term energy source due to the inexhaustible fuel resources and its potential to generate energy without any significant CO2-emissions. With ITER, magnetic confinement fusion is now entering a new phase to demonstrate its technical and economic feasibility.

The nuclear fusion process is characterized by an extreme energy release in the range of several MeV per nucleon; hence, the energy density and thus the thermal fluxes to the plasma facing wall in fusion reactors are much higher compared with fossil fuel or other energy conversion technologies. This makes high demands on the materials; in particular high temperature resistant materials with a high thermal conductivity are required. From an engineering point of view, one of the most challenging issues is the development of fatigue resistant plasma facing component, being compatible with plasma induced quasi-stationary heat fluxes up to approx. 20 MW/m² and short transients in the GW/m² range. In addition, all in-vessel components have to withstand high neutron doses without unacceptable activation and deterioration of the materials.

A major aim of our research activities is to develop new materials, coatings and joints, and to characterize them with respect to their thermal and mechanical properties in a wide temperature range. Furthermore the performance and degradation of plasma facing materials and components under fusion relevant wall loads and neutron fluxes is another important R & D subject.

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