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Small Scale, Big Impact: Transforming Brittle Tungsten with Woven Tungsten Yarns

This week’s spotlighted image reveals the foundational element for the advanced composite showcased in our first post. It displays radially braided yarns engineered with the exceptional capability to reinforce materials that are typically brittle, such as tungsten (below DBTT – ductile to brittle transition temperature). Within the demanding environment of a nuclear fusion device, plasma-facing components (PFCs) endure not only extreme but also fluctuating conditions. They undergo cycles of heating and cooling, subjecting them to considerable thermal stresses. It is imperative that the chosen materials not only resist these stresses without failing but also maintain a lifespan conducive to the economic viability of fusion technology. Moreover, the ability to accurately forecast the longevity of each component is essential, necessitating a high degree of consistency in their response to specific operational stresses. The strategic employment of tungsten fiber reinforcements offers a promising solution to these challenges, allowing for precise predictions of material performance under various stress conditions. For a more in-depth exploration of this innovative advancement and its potential impact, take a look here.

Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of radial braided tungsten yarns, filaments supplied by Osram GmbH, processed into yarns by Bossert&Kast GmbH + Co. KG and woven into textile fabrics by ITA Aachen, image taken by Alexander Lau, FZJ.
Alexander Lau, Doctoral researcher IEK, Materials and Components, Institut für Energie- und Klimaforschung, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, picture courtesy of Alexander Lau.
Alexander Lau, Doctoral researcher IEK, Materials and Components, Institut für Energie- und Klimaforschung, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH. Picture courtesy of Alexander Lau.

“When I held these flexible tungsten fabrics in my hand for the first time, I immediately thought of the time of knights and their battles in the Middle Ages. Theoretically, this metal fabric could be used to make wearable garments. Although such garments could be quite heavy due to the considerable density of tungsten, the result would undoubtedly be a unique marvel. The flexibility of these fabrics, especially when compared to single-fiber based textiles or pure tungsten, never ceases to amaze me. The design freedom that results from using different textile structures is almost unlimited and I am very excited to see which design performs best under fusion related conditions.”

– Alexander Lau

Find Alexander Lau on LinkedIn and Twitter: @LauAlexander164.


Join us in this exciting journey as we uncover the intricacies and innovations of nuclear fusion. Share your thoughts in the comment section below, engage in the discussion, and be a part of shaping our energy future!

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