Materials Science and Technology
Argonne applies its long history in materials research to develop
innovative applications for electric utility systems.

n Introduction

Since the 1940s, Argonne National Laboratory has developed extensive capabilities in materials and metallurgical research. That expertise has always been oriented toward the power generation industry. Working in collaboration with industrial partners, 12 Argonne divisions carry out research and development (R&D) programs that encompass materials characterization, sensors and sensor materials, superconductivity, metals and alloys, ceramics and composites, polymers and plastics, and coatings and surfaces.

Argonne's materials specialists take a multidisciplinary approach to solve high?risk, long?term problems. They have experience in utility?related work focusing on materials for end?use energy efficiency, environmentally preferred advanced generation, renewable energy technologies, and environmental research, as well as strategic energy R&Dprojects and activities. Argonne is also home to key National User Facilities, such as the Advanced Photon Source (APS), Intense Pulsed Neutron Source (IPNS), and the High?Voltage Electron Microscope? Tandem Facility.

Argonne has performed materials?related research for organizations such as the Commonwealth Research Corporation, Duke Power, Northeast Utilities, Electric Power Research Institute, and Northern States Power. Recent projects have investigated the use of ceramic materials to facilitate generation, storage, and distribution of energy and the use of the levitation properties of yttrium-barium-copper oxides (YBCO) to demonstrate flywheel energy storage.

n Materials Characterization

Provide an unrivaled suite of resources for analyzing, predicting, and preventing material failures:

Intense Pulsed Neutron Source - a variety of neutron scattering techniques for many uses, including measuring residual stress.

High-Voltage Electron Microscope-Tandem Facility and Intermediate-Voltage Electron Microscope.

Advanced Photon Source - the world's most brilliant x-rays, for time-dependent materials characterization.

Alpha-Gamma Hot Cell Facility - microphysical and microchemical characterization and testing of irradiated and contaminated materials.

Mass Spectroscopy of Recoiled Ions Analyzer - real-time thin-film monitoring (1997 R&D 100 Award winner).

n Modeling and Simulation

Apply modeling, simulation, visualization, and advanced computing techniques to study complex materials systems and phenomena:

Performance simulation and eddy-current nondestructive testing of reactor steam generator tubes to address degradation problems.

Realistic data to analyze off-normal events, obtained by using the Tube Leak Rate Test Facility.

Virtual reality modeling of corrosion susceptibility and foundry casting in the Cave Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE).

Integrity and containment of rotating machines (high-strength materials, flywheels).

Casting, welding, and advanced solidification processes.

Pulsed high-velocity electromagnetic forming of sheet aluminum and other lightweight metals.

Mechanical behavior and life prediction.

Aging and degradation mechanisms as related to license renewal.

n Advanced Materials

Develop metallic alloys, ceramics and composites, polymers and plastics, sensors and sensor materials, and coatings and surfaces for efficient energy conversion, extended component life, and economical operation:

Magnetic materials.

Giant magnetoresistive thin films for switching.

Diamond and diamond-like carbon coatings with low friction coefficients and high durability.

Liquid crystalline composite material for holographic applications, such as optical image storage (1996 R&D 100 Award winner).

"Ceramicrete" ceramic binding for solidifying radioactive and hazardous waste (1996 R&D 100 Award winner).

On-line electrochemical noise probe for early detection of rapid sustained localized pitting corrosion.

Inhibitors that reduce chemical use and toxicity in the treatment of microbial corrosion and fouling in piping and heat exchange systems.

Ceramic oxide membrane technology in which natural gas or biogas is converted into syngas or used as the feedstock to produce hydrogen fuel.

Electroceramic materials with dielectric properties for use in power conversion and energy storage devices, such as ultracapacitors.

Pumpable refractory materials with high corrosion/erosion resistance for use in boilers.

n Materials Properties

Develop methods and procedures for plant life extension and enhanced power plant component performance.

Hot cell facilities available for characterization and testing of new and existing nuclear reactor fuels and cladding for extended burnup.

Steam generator diagnostics for more accurate characterization of tubing defects.

Deformation behavior and its relation to the embrittlement of LWR pressure vessel steels.

Materials and process development and mechanical property determinations. Corrosion and environmentally assisted cracking. Component failure analysis.

n Superconductivity

Develop high-temperature superconducting materials for power applications:

Synthesis, fabrication, characterization, and development of new materials and applications.

Magnetic flux imaging system to visualize and improve performance of superconducting wire.

Applications such as current leads, wires, coils, motors, generators, bearings, and junction-derived devices.

Use of the levitation properties of YBCO to develop flywheel energy storage.

n Contacts

For technical information, contact Roger Poeppel, Argonne National Laboratory, Bldg. 212, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60439; phone: 630/252?5118; e?mail:

For information on working with Argonne, contact Paul Eichamer, Industrial Technology Development Center, Argonne National Laboratory, Bldg. 201, 9700 South Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60439; phone: 800/627-2596; fax: 630/252-5230.

June 1998

Argonne National Laboratory is operated by The University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy under contract No. W-31-109-Eng-38.

Argonne researchers use this in-house test facility to evaluate the ability of eddy-current inspection methods to identify and locate flaws in heat exchanger tubes.