The Materials for Clean Energy Production Program aims to develop innovative solutions to materials challenges in the clean energy sector, such as those for next-generation nuclear reactors and existing reactors. It also aims to assist industry in safely extending the service life of current Generation-III reactors by assessing and thoroughly understanding materials behaviour, which is of critical importance to ensure safe operation. Research on high-temperature materials and materials for harsh environments can also help improve materials performance in conventional and next-generation fossil-based power plants and in other energy generation systems.
Current activities in the Clean Energy Production Program can be described under three broad categories:
Materials for Generation IV Reactors
Canada has signed the Generation IV (Gen IV) International Forum Framework (GIF) Agreement with 14 countries. GIF’s goals are to develop Gen IV nuclear fission reactors in order to further improve the efficiency of energy production from nuclear fuel and significantly reduce nuclear waste in spent fuel. Research at CanmetMATERIALS focuses on developing and assessing candidate alloys for the design of Gen IV Supercritical Water-Cooled Reactors (SCWR).
In the past few years, work at CMAT has produced significant results in the area of corrosion, stress-corrosion, creep and mechanical properties of alloys, and a database has been established for relevant data. Prototype ceramic insulation materials critical for Canada’s SCWR design have been produced, as has a high-strength oxide dispersion-strengthened alloy. This materials work is an integral part of the SCWR design effort.
Materials Research for Existing Reactor Systems
Research focuses on three key areas:
- Integrity assessment of materials for nuclear waste applications
- Materials issues related to life extension and refurbishment activities for Generation III CANDU reactors, including work on zirconium pressure tube materials, zirconium fuel cladding alloys, as well as other parts used in the fuel-channel of Candu reactors
- Integrity assessment of materials for in-core nuclear components
Materials Research for Clean Fossil Power and High-Temperature Energy Systems
Research in this area focuses on the development of high-temperature alloys and coating materials for use in areas where metals are subject to high-temperature conditions (e.g. CO2 capture) or highly corrosive or erosive environments.