Microengineered Textured Armor for Plasma-Facing Components

Period of Performance: 06/12/2017 - 03/11/2018


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

12173 Montague Street Array
Pacoima, CA 91331
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Application of nuclear fusion for cost-competitive energy generation cannot be realized until advanced plasma-facing materials and structures are developed. The specific problem addressed in this project is the mitigation of heat-induced failure, surface erosion, and surface blistering of tungsten-based plasma- facing components as a result of the interaction of tungsten with energetic helium and hydrogen isotopes. Ultramet, teaming with Digital Materials Solutions (DMS) and the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), proposes to develop and demonstrate microengineered textured plasma-facing armor for tungsten-based components that is highly tolerant of thermomechanical stress relative to conventional smooth tungsten, and that can efficiently release implanted helium and deuterium ions without blistering. Specifically, structural open-cell tungsten foam (80 vol% porous, several mm thick) will be diffusion bonded to the divertor surface, followed by vapor deposition of a high surface area textured tungsten coating throughout the three-dimensionally interconnected foam ligament structure. In previous work for DOE, the initial feasibility of thin (50-μm) textured tungsten and molybdenum magnetic fusion energy (MFE) divertor armor coatings was demonstrated through material processing at Ultramet, ion-induced sputtering measurements at Purdue University, low-energy hydrogen plasma testing at UCSD, and thermomechanical modeling and design by DMS. In the proposed project, armor optimization will be expanded to include application of textured coatings within a relatively thick (several mm) structural tungsten foam that is diffusion bonded to the divertor surface, thereby producing a robust armor with increased lifetime that can survive transient plasma erosion, such as from high-power edge localized modes and runaway electrons. Nuclear fusion offers a replacement for increasingly scarce fossil fuel energy sources. Alternatives to fossil fuels (e.g. wind, solar, geothermal) cannot generate sufficient energy to meet current needs. Fusion, with its low generation of radioactive waste, is ideal for large-scale energy generation. Practical application is absolutely dependent on development of advanced materials.