Assessment of mechanical properties of fusion materials by micro-mechanical testing


Thomas Pardoen, (Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)),

SCK•CEN Mentor

Terentyev Dmitry,, +32 (0)14 33 31 97

Expert group

Structural Materials

SCK•CEN Co-mentor

Van Renterghem Wouter , , +32 (0)14 33 30 98

Short project description

In this project, we will investigate the mechanical properties of perspective fusion materials with high potential to tolerate irradiation damage by developing and applying sub-miniaturization techniques. Industrial engineering of new materials with dedicated microstructure and chemistry to resist neutron irradiation degradation is one of the elements of the European Fusion Roadmap [1,2]. The implementation of the miniaturized testing will bring significant benefits in terms of cost and time required for the assessment and downs selection of new materials using existing material test reactors and future irradiation capacities offered by the Myrrha project [3]. The latter will involve the construction of the “Irradiation Station” to boost the assessment of perspective fusion materials. This project will contribute to the design of this Irradiation Station by delivering the optimized geometry of specimens.

Design and safety analysis requires engineering material properties to be derived from standardized mechanical tests, which deliver well reproducible information obtained under fully controlled conditions. For nuclear installations, the engineering properties need to be determined after irradiation to ensure structural integrity of components in service. However, the “cost of neutrons” is high while the irradiation volume is limited, making the neutron irradiation of standardized specimens is costly or sometimes even impossible. Therefore the transfer of the properties obtained from sub-miniaturized specimen to engineering accepted formats is of strong interest in the nuclear industry and nuclear material’s R&D, as it will have a direct impact on the design and licensing of future nuclear setups [4].

While the miniaturized testing helps solving the issue of down-selection, it can also be used to derive the engineering properties of materials according to the existing standards. Here, the application of the small specimen testing technique (SSTT) output requires transfer procedures to grant the engineering value of the testing results [5]. The project execution will employ the usage of finite element tools, performing experimental mechanical testing and microstructural investigation. The current project will combine those three elements to achieve the main goal: development of the procedure for the sub-miniaturization testing of irradiated fusion materials. The developed procedure will be applied to one or several perspective fusion materials whose performance will be assessed after exposure to neutron irradiation in BR2 reactor. The work will be performed in close collaboration with young and experienced researchers engaged in the qualification and R&D of nuclear materials as well as design of Irradiation Station within the Myrrha project.


[1] The Road to Fusion Electricity | EUROfusion, F. Romanelli,

[2] D. Stork Developing structural, high-heat flux and plasma facing materials for a near-term DEMO fusion power plant: The EU assessment, J. Nucl. Mater. 455 (2014) 277-291.

[3] H. Aït Abderrahim, D. De Bruyn, G. Van den Eynde & S. Michiels (2013) Transmutation of High Level nuclear Waste by means of Accelerator Driven System (ADS).


[5] G.E. Lucas et al, J. Nucl. Mater. 367-370 (2007) 1549-1556. doi: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2007.04.034

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

Master of sciences

The candidate needs to have a background in

Physics , Other , engineering

Estimated duration

4 years
Before applying, please consult the guidelines for application for PhD.