Friction stir welding of copper canisters for nuclear waste
Abstract: The Swedish model for final disposal of nuclear fuel waste is based on copper canisters as a corrosion barrier with an inner pressure holding insert of cast iron. One of the methods to seal the copper canister is to use the Friction Stir Welding (FSW), a method invented by The Welding Institute (TWI).This work has been focused on characterisation of the FSW joints, and modelling of the process, both analytically and numerically. The first simulations were based on Rosenthal’s analytical medium plate model. The model is simple to use, but has limitations. Finite element models were developed, initially with a two-dimensional geometry. Due to the requirements of describing both the heat flow and the tool movement, three-dimensional models were developed. These models take into account heat transfer, material flow, and continuum mechanics. The geometries of the models are based on the simulation experiments carried out at TWI and at Swedish Nuclear Fuel Waste and Management Co (SKB). Temperature distribution, material flow and their effects on the thermal expansion were predicted for a full-scale canister and lid. The steady state solutions have been compared with temperature measurements, showing good agreement.Microstructure and hardness profiles have been investigated by optical microscope, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Electron Back Scatter Diffraction (EBSD) and Rockwell hardness measurements. EBSD visualisation has been used to determine the grain size distribution and the appearance of twins and misorientation within grains. The orientation maps show a fine uniform equiaxed grain structure. The root of the weld exhibits the smallest grains and many annealing twins. This may be due to deformation after recrystallisation. The appearance of the nugget and the grain size depends on the position of the weld. A large difference can be seen both in hardness and grain size between the start of the weld and when the steady state is reached.
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