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Title: Evaluation of Molybdenum as a Surrogate for Iridium in the GPHS Weld Development

The welding equipment used for welding iridium containers (clads) at Los Alamos National Laboratory is twenty five years old and is undergoing an upgrade. With the upgrade, there is a requirement for requalification of the welding process, and the opportunity for process improvement. Testing of the new system and requalification will require several welds on iridium test parts and clads, and any efforts to improve the process will add to the need for iridium parts. The extreme high cost of iridium imposes a severe limitation on the extent of test welding that can be done. The 2 inch diameter, 0.027 inch thick, iridium blank disc that the clad cup is formed from, is useful for initial weld trials, but it costs $5000. The development clad sets needed for final tests and requalification cost $15,000 per set. A solution to iridium cost issue would be to do the majority of the weld development on a less expensive surrogate metal with similar weld characteristics. One such metal is molybdenum. Since its melting index (melting temperature x thermal conductivity) is closest to iridium, welds on molybdenum should be similar in size for a given weld power level. Molybdenum is inexpensive; a single 2more » inch molybdenum disc costs only $9. In order to evaluate molybdenum as a surrogate for iridium, GTA welds were first developed to provide full penetration on 0.030 inch thick molybdenum discs at speeds of 20, 25, and 30 inches per minute (ipm). These weld parameters were then repeated on the standard 0.027 inch thick iridium blanks. The top surface and bottom surface (root) width and grain structure of the molybdenum and iridium welds were compared, and similarities were evident between the two metals. Due to material and thickness differences, the iridium welds were approximately 35% wider than the molybdenum welds. A reduction in iridium weld current of 35% produce welds slightly smaller than the molybdenum welds yet showed that current could be scaled according to molybdenum/iridium weld width ratio to achieve similar welds. Further weld trials using various thicknesses of molybdenum determined that 0.024 inch thick molybdenum material would best match the 0.027 inch thick iridium in achieving comparable welds when using the same welding parameters. Across the range of welding speeds, the characteristic weld pool shape and solidification grain structure in the two materials was also similar. With the similarity of welding characteristics confirmed, and the appropriate thickness of molybdenum determined, it has been concluded that the use of molybdenum discs and tube sections will greatly expand the weld testing opportunities prior to iridium weld qualification« less
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  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Engineering(42); Materials Science(36) Iridium, Molybdenum, GTA Welding