October 27, 2008

New Steel Created for Fusion Project

U.S. scientists say they've created a new cast stainless steel that is 70 percent stronger than comparable steels.

Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the U.S. ITER Project Office located at ORNL said the new steel in being evaluated for use in the huge shield modules required by the ITER fusion device.

ITER (originally the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is a multibillion-dollar international research and development project to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power and to enable studies of self-heating burning plasmas.

Scientists said the facility will require hundreds of tons of complex stainless steel components that must withstand the temperatures associated with being in the proximity of plasma heated to more than 100 million degrees Celsius.

Jeremy Busby of the ORNL Materials Science and Technology Division said he's hopeful the new material might be needed for ITER. "We expect to hear fairly soon about how our cast stainless steel may be used in this groundbreaking project," he said.