Sweden has a strong base and knowledge on component manufacturing through powder metallurgy hot isostatic pressing (PM HIP) and can provide world class products following the highest quality standards. PM HIP is a highly attractive method for manufacturing large components for nuclear power plants (NPPs), as alternative manufacturing methods are increasingly being sourced for nuclear components. There are many beneficial attributes connected to the near-net-shape manufacturing of PM HIP for nuclear components, but however an important complication of the technology is the formation of multitude of small oxide inclusions in the microstructure of the materials, which impair the toughness of the material.
This initiative handles further development of the PM HIP technology in purpose to reduce the oxygen content of the material above that possible to achieve by traditional PM HIP and thereby improve the material properties and performance of the product suitable for a range of applications.
The proposed advancements will give the Swedish PM HIP industry an opportunity to make a quantum leap in front of their international competitors. The proposed technology provides also several positive attributes in form of flexibililty for the nuclear energy industry. These include an access to an alternative source for acquiring components, a shorter delivery time, improved freedom for design, improvements in maintenance aspects (safety assurance), reduced standstills of plants and increased generation of sustainable electricity. The innovative technique behind this proposal was developed in a recently finished project (Vinnova Diarie nr 2017-03222) in collaboration with the Swedish PM HIP and nuclear energy industry under the lead of Swerim. The developed technique relies on a use of a novel concept that can be integrated to existing PM HIP. It is resource efficient, can be followed-up and controlled by digital sensors and operates under conditions that are of interest from economical points of view. The technique was verified with a demonstrator component thus displaying a technology readiness level of 5.
The scope of this initiative is to verify that improved material properties can be attained for very big PM HIP components through an optimized reduction treatment accomplished with the aid of digital sensors. Data will be generated, analysed and learnt in an iterative process optimization stage and it will be utilized for a manufacture of a massive component. The properties and the structural integrity of the massive component will be studied in an extensive material characterization campaign conducted both by qualified research groups and by end-users with their dedicated methods. The achieved material properties will be compared to the codified requirements addressed for a component in the final application. The generated knowledge will be an important input for the acceptance of the proposed technology for industrial use. The excellence and originality of this project proposal is unique in global perspective as no commercially viable oxygen reduction technologies exist for PM HIP. The positive attributes connected to the concept are many along the whole industrial value chain and society in general when transition to sustainable energy production and sustainable manufacturing are considered. The proposed project will strengthen the collaboration of the actors in the value chain and increase the innovation capability and adaptability of the involved industries. The results will be accessible for the stakeholders in the industry including SME and other groups.