Improved Silicon Carbide Components for Nuclear Applications

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-12ER90381
Agency Tracking Number: 87717
Amount: $999,946.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2013
Solicitation Topic Code: 21b
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0000880
Small Business Information
Physical Sciences Inc.
MA, Andover, MA, 01810-1077
DUNS: 073800062
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Frederick Lauten
 Dr.
 (978) 738-8277
 lauten@psicorp.com
Business Contact
 David Green
Title: Dr.
Phone: (978) 689-0003
Email: green@psicorp.com
Research Institution
 Stub
Abstract
Silicon carbide based ceramic matrix composites may become the predominant material system from which reactor core components are manufactured. Manufacturing large, high aspect ratio, components using silicon carbide composite materials presents unique manufacturing challenges to maintain dimensional tolerance and meet the performance needs for in core reactor components. Physical Sciences Inc. will utilize our pre-ceramic polymer and laser machining expertise to develop the manufacturing process necessary for cost effective production of nuclear grade silicon carbide composite components for use in the core of nuclear systems. In Phase I, PSI demonstrated the ability to produce high aspect ratio, thin walled tubular components greater than 2 meters in length with diameters of 1.1 cm to 10 cm that maintained tolerances of +/- 0.005cm. The components met strength and dimensional requirements. In addition, we demonstrated the ability to laser machine the components to surface smoothness of 20 microns or less. In Phase II, PSI will develop and produce full size prototype components conforming to the dimensions of NGNP and LWRS designs. We will iteratively combine CMC process improvements and materials analysis, including transmission electron microscopy and mass spectrometry, to optimize the polymer precursor and resulting matrix for in-core nuclear reactor environments. These will be validated by radiation testing. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Silicon carbide composite reactor components will enable safer, more efficient operation of present and future nuclear systems. The radiation tolerant nature of silicon carbide composites will reduce the likelihood of component failures due to embrittlement from radiation exposure. The materials will enable maintenance cycles of next generation nuclear plants to be determined by fueled components and will reduce the waste produced by nuclear systems.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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