Quick, accurate location and measurement of potential failure points in materials is the focus of a second-generation neutron residual stress mapping instrument being developed jointly by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee. The project, headed by Cam Hubbard of ORNL's Metals and Ceramics Division, uses high-flux neutron beams from the lab's high-flux isotope reactor to measure residual stress and create a 3D map that pinpoints high-stress locations of likely materials failure.
The instrument can also study the grains in a material and the way they behave under deformation, thus helping to improve the manufacturing of engines, nuclear reactors, large steel machinery, and equipment used in heat recovery systems. The technique is applicable to a wide range of materials, including iron, aluminum, titanium, magnesium, and various metal matrix composites, and was recently used to strengthen concrete and to understand powder compaction.
DOE's Office of FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies is funding the research.