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Title: Space Reflector Materials for Prometheus Application

Abstract

The two materials studied in depth which appear to have the most promise in a Prometheus reflector application are beryllium (Be) and beryllium oxide (BeO). Three additional materials, magnesium oxide (MgO), alumina (Al{sub 2}O{sub 3}), and magnesium aluminate spinel (MgAl{sub 2}O{sub 4}) were also recently identified to be of potential interest, and may have promise in a Prometheus application as well, but are expected to be somewhat higher mass than either a Be or BeO based reflector. Literature review and analysis indicates that material properties for Be are largely known, but there are gaps in the properties of Be0 relative to the operating conditions for a Prometheus application. A detailed preconceptual design information document was issued providing material properties for both materials (Reference (a)). Beryllium oxide specimens were planned to be irradiated in the JOY0 Japanese test reactor to partially fill the material property gaps, but more testing in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) test reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was expected to be needed. A key issue identified for BeO was obtaining material for irradiation testing with an average grain size of {approx}5 micrometers, reminiscent of material for which prior irradiation test results were promising. Currentmore » commercially available material has an average grain size of {approx}10 micrometers. The literature indicated that improved irradiation performance could be expected (e.g., reduced irradiation-induced swelling) with the finer grain size material. Confirmation of these results would allow the use of historic irradiated materials test results from the literature, reducing the extent of required testing and therefore the cost of using this material. Environmental, safety and health (ES&H) concerns associated with manufacturing are significant but manageable for Be and BeO. Although particulate-generating operations (e.g., machining, grinding, etc.) involving Be-bearing materials require significant controls, handling of clean, finished products requires only modest controls. Neither material was initially considered to be viable as a structural material, however, based on improved understanding of its unirradiated properties, Be should be evaluated due to having potentially acceptable structural properties in the unirradiated condition, i. e., during launch, when loads might be most limiting. All three of the alternative materials are non-hazardous, and thus do not engender the ES&H concerns associated with use of Be or BeO. Aluminum oxide is a widely available ceramic material with well characterized physical properties and well developed processing practices. Although the densest (3.97 g/cm{sup 3} versus Be: 1.85, BeO: 3.01, MgO: 3.58, and MgAl{sub 2}O{sub 4}: 3.60, all theoretical density), and therefore the heaviest, of all the materials considered for this application, its ease of fabrication, mechanical properties, availability and neutronic characteristics warrant its evaluation. Similarly, MgO is widely used in the refractory materials industry and has a large established manufacturing base while being lighter than Al{sub 2}O{sub 3}. Most of the commercially available MgO products incorporate additives or a second phase to avoid the formation of Mg(OH){sub 2} due to spontaneous reaction with ambient humidity. The hygroscopicity of MgO makes it a more difficult material to work with than Al{sub 2}O{sub 3} or MgAl{sub 2}O{sub 4}. Magnesium aluminate spinel, although not as widely available as either Al{sub 2}O{sub 3} or MgO, has the advantage of a density almost as low as MgO without being hygroscopic, and shares comparable neutronic performance characteristics in the reflector application.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL), Niskayuna, NY
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
883662
Report Number(s):
MDO-723-0046
TRN: US0603541
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC12-00SN39357
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
22 GENERAL STUDIES OF NUCLEAR REACTORS; 42 ENGINEERING; ALUMINATES; ALUMINIUM; BERYLLIUM OXIDES; BUILDING MATERIALS; GRAIN SIZE; HFIR REACTOR; HYGROSCOPICITY; IRRADIATION; MAGNESIUM OXIDES; MECHANICAL PROPERTIES; PHYSICAL PROPERTIES; TEST REACTORS; NRPCT

Citation Formats

J. Nash, V. Munne, and LL Stimely. Space Reflector Materials for Prometheus Application. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/883662.
J. Nash, V. Munne, & LL Stimely. Space Reflector Materials for Prometheus Application. United States. doi:10.2172/883662.
J. Nash, V. Munne, and LL Stimely. Tue . "Space Reflector Materials for Prometheus Application". United States. doi:10.2172/883662. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/883662.
@article{osti_883662,
title = {Space Reflector Materials for Prometheus Application},
author = {J. Nash and V. Munne and LL Stimely},
abstractNote = {The two materials studied in depth which appear to have the most promise in a Prometheus reflector application are beryllium (Be) and beryllium oxide (BeO). Three additional materials, magnesium oxide (MgO), alumina (Al{sub 2}O{sub 3}), and magnesium aluminate spinel (MgAl{sub 2}O{sub 4}) were also recently identified to be of potential interest, and may have promise in a Prometheus application as well, but are expected to be somewhat higher mass than either a Be or BeO based reflector. Literature review and analysis indicates that material properties for Be are largely known, but there are gaps in the properties of Be0 relative to the operating conditions for a Prometheus application. A detailed preconceptual design information document was issued providing material properties for both materials (Reference (a)). Beryllium oxide specimens were planned to be irradiated in the JOY0 Japanese test reactor to partially fill the material property gaps, but more testing in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) test reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was expected to be needed. A key issue identified for BeO was obtaining material for irradiation testing with an average grain size of {approx}5 micrometers, reminiscent of material for which prior irradiation test results were promising. Current commercially available material has an average grain size of {approx}10 micrometers. The literature indicated that improved irradiation performance could be expected (e.g., reduced irradiation-induced swelling) with the finer grain size material. Confirmation of these results would allow the use of historic irradiated materials test results from the literature, reducing the extent of required testing and therefore the cost of using this material. Environmental, safety and health (ES&H) concerns associated with manufacturing are significant but manageable for Be and BeO. Although particulate-generating operations (e.g., machining, grinding, etc.) involving Be-bearing materials require significant controls, handling of clean, finished products requires only modest controls. Neither material was initially considered to be viable as a structural material, however, based on improved understanding of its unirradiated properties, Be should be evaluated due to having potentially acceptable structural properties in the unirradiated condition, i. e., during launch, when loads might be most limiting. All three of the alternative materials are non-hazardous, and thus do not engender the ES&H concerns associated with use of Be or BeO. Aluminum oxide is a widely available ceramic material with well characterized physical properties and well developed processing practices. Although the densest (3.97 g/cm{sup 3} versus Be: 1.85, BeO: 3.01, MgO: 3.58, and MgAl{sub 2}O{sub 4}: 3.60, all theoretical density), and therefore the heaviest, of all the materials considered for this application, its ease of fabrication, mechanical properties, availability and neutronic characteristics warrant its evaluation. Similarly, MgO is widely used in the refractory materials industry and has a large established manufacturing base while being lighter than Al{sub 2}O{sub 3}. Most of the commercially available MgO products incorporate additives or a second phase to avoid the formation of Mg(OH){sub 2} due to spontaneous reaction with ambient humidity. The hygroscopicity of MgO makes it a more difficult material to work with than Al{sub 2}O{sub 3} or MgAl{sub 2}O{sub 4}. Magnesium aluminate spinel, although not as widely available as either Al{sub 2}O{sub 3} or MgO, has the advantage of a density almost as low as MgO without being hygroscopic, and shares comparable neutronic performance characteristics in the reflector application.},
doi = {10.2172/883662},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Jan 31 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Tue Jan 31 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}

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