Friction Stir Welding of ODS Steels for Future Generation Nuclear Reactors

  • Huw Dawson

Student thesis: Phd


In this project, we have successfully joined MA956 Oxide Dispersion-Strengthened (ODS) steel plates using Friction Stir Welding (FSW). ODS steels are prime candidate materials for the fuel cladding in Generation IV nuclear fission reactors and as first wall components in nuclear fusion reactors. This is due to their exhibiting excellent high temperature strength and creep behaviour, together with enhanced resistance to radiationinduced void swelling. ODS steels are heavily reliant on a fine dispersion of (Y-Al-O) nanooxide particles to provide the aforementioned properties. This, however, makes ODS steels particularly problematic to join. Most joining techniques melt the material along the joint line, but this would severely alter or deplete the nano-oxide dispersion and hence be highly detrimental to the material’s performance in a nuclear environment. FSW is a solid-state joining technique, and therefore can join ODS steel without melting the material. Although FSW can potentially alter the microstructure of the base material and affect the distribution of nano-oxide particles, if a sufficient number of nano-sized particles and a sufficiently homogeneous dispersion remain after the welding process, then a major roadblock for the implementation of ODS steels will have been removed. The research of this thesis focused on the impact of FSW on: i) the microstructure, ii) the mechanical properties, iii) the residual stresses, and iv) the abnormal grain growth behaviour of ODS steels; utilizing a wide array of techniques to assess the micro-to-nano scale structure and the properties of the base material and welds, including optical, scanning and transmission and electron microscopy, X-ray and neutron diffraction, small-angle neutron scattering, tensile testing and micro-hardness measurements. We also produced welds with systematic changes to the tool traverse speed and rotation speed to investigate the impact of changing the welding parameters on the weld microstructure, and therefore optimise the process parameters for enhanced radiation and mechanical performance of the ODS steel welds.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorEnrique Jimenez-Melero (Supervisor) & Grace Burke (Supervisor)


  • Nuclear structural materials
  • Friction Stir Welding
  • Nuclear Fission
  • Nuclear Fusion
  • MA956
  • ODS Steel

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