Ductile to brittle transition in ITER specification tungsten assessed by combined fracture toughness and bending tests analysis

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Institutes & Expert groups

  • CIAE - China Institute of Atomic Energy
  • UCL - Université catholique de Louvain
  • UGent - Universiteit Gent

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The evaluation of the fracture toughness of tungsten is required for the design of plasma-facing components in order to ensure safe and durable operation in ITER reactor, being under construction in France. During operation, plasma facing materials will be exposed to cyclic thermo-mechanical loads combined with high energy neutron flux, which, in general, reduce the fracture toughness. Characterization of the degradation of the mechanical properties after exposure to the neutron flux involves time consuming and expensive procedures due to nuclear activation and special handling. Subsequently, development of sample miniaturization and protocols to reduce the volume of material under inspection is critical to speed up the progress in R&D. In this work, we propose a combined approach for the reconstruction of the fracture toughness – temperature curve, which is applied in the ductile to brittle transition temperature range. The approach consists of two steps: (i) application of the three point bending tests using miniaturized samples to reveal the transition temperature range on the basis of flexural strain data; (ii) execution of standardized fracture toughness tests at the upper temperature of the transition regime. The results allow the determination of the fracture toughness as a function of temperature with a reasonable accuracy. The validity of the approach has been demonstrated on two commercial tungsten grades produced according to ITER specification and tested in the as-fabricated state. The conclusions are supported by microstructural analysis performed on both standardized and miniaturized samples.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering: A
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2019


  • Tungsten, Bending test, Fracture toughness, Ductile to brittle transition temperature, Fracture behavior

ID: 5024495