Investigating functionally graded materials for prospective use in nuclear applications
24 May 2024
- Orla Fernie



Researchers from Bangor University studied stresses in additively manufactured materials on Engin-X to evaluate the feasibility of using such materials in nuclear applications.

Abdullah, Joe and team at Engin-x Spring 2024



​Dr Abdullah Al Mamun, Lecturer in Structural Integrity from the School of Computer Science and Electronics Engineering at Bangor University, first came to ISIS as a PhD student around 10 years ago. Recently he returned, this time as an academic, with his own PhD students to explore additively manufactured materials on our Engin-X instrument.

His team are looking at additively manufactured functionally graded materials (FGMs) to study how residual stresses in the materials affect the cyclic deformation behaviour of the material. FGMs are multifunctional materials with prospective use in space, aerospace, biomedical and nuclear applications and it is the latter which is of interest to Dr Mamun's group. Using Engin-X, they specifically examined additively manufactured FGM steel which has a grain structure that is not homogenous. Additive manufacturing can result in a grain structure that is dominant in one direction, impacting the materials performance due to deformation and damage.

Currently, additive manufacturing is used in industries such as automotive and aerospace, but not yet nuclear. The research team believe it could be advantageous to the nuclear industry if used with reliability. They therefore have two goals for their research: To help qualify the additive manufacturing technique for nuclear applications and to obtain feedback on improving the manufacturing process to prevent failures.

Engin-X has various features that make it well suited to this research. It can measure multiple diffraction peaks at the same time, has a good stress rig and furnace, as well as two detectors allowing multiple strain measurements. Dr Mamun also credits the Engin-X instrument scientist and support team with whom they have worked for many years: “It's important to have the right technical support from the staff here".

Dr Joe Kelleher, Engin-X Instrument Scientist,​ agrees that sample environment is a strength at ISIS. “At other facilities, it is more common for users to bring their own sample environment for the set up. This means a day is spent connecting it to the beamline systems and the instrument is subsequently dominated by researchers who can afford and maintain their own equipment, making it harder to bring in new users. We know what the engineering community needs, and can offer it, in most cases."

This experiment is part of research conducted by Dr Mamun's group into nuclear materials. His research group is part of the Nuclear Futures Institute at Bangor University, involved in projects such as the development of a UK based research reactor to test materials reactions to neutrons in a real-life nuclear scenario.​

Contact: Fernie, Orla (STFC,RAL,ISIS)