Metal Pipe as a Structural Component

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The technology is related to the use of metal  pipes  constructed  from  several  layers  of  metal  foil  as  structural components, and the process for their manufacture. The original use of these is in nuclear fusion reactors, for which they  have  been  successfully  tested and  where  such  pipes  would  be  exposed  to  extremely  high  temperature  and  pressure regimes, far exceeding the allowable regime of application of conventional (steel)  pipes.  The  technology  is  ready  for  use  in  the  non-­‐fusion  domain  and  was  patented by the inventors Jens Reiser, Bermhard Dafferner, Anfreas Hoffmann, Michael Rieth, Werner Schulmeyer and Anton Möslang.

Description of the technology

The  metal  pipes  are  composed  of  layers  of  refractory  metal.  Such  metals,  for  example Tungsten and Molybdenum, are extraordinarily resistant to heat and wear and have a melting point well above 1772 °C. They are elastic enough to be wrapped in tube form.

Innovation and advantages of the offer

Metal  pipes  are  commonly  used  in  many  facilities.  They  transport  fluids  such  as  water, oil, liquid metal or gas. Conventional pipes made out of steel are not however suitable for operation in a high  temperature  and/or  pressure regime as they suffer  from structural deficits  and aging.  A further  disadvantage  of steel  is  the low  heat conductivity. Refractory metals show a substantially improved performance. However producing  pipes  made  e.g. of Tungsten is not cost  efficient  as  they  cannot be extruded and do  not  provide  the  required  mechanical properties.  Up  to  now  this  has  also  prohibited  the  manufacturing  of  pipes  with  a  small wall thickness of order 1 mm. In addition, Tungsten is brittle, which prohibits its  use  as  a  structural  component.  The  technology  innovation  described  here  resolves these problems by constructing the tube out of several layers of refractory metal, which may be combined with layers of other material. The layers are joined by  gluing,  soldering  or  welding, but only in areas where  this  is  necessary.  Tests have shown that such tubes  also  show  a  high  ductility; thus they are deformed  under  high  load  rather than breaking.

Non-fusion application

The  technology  has  been tested  successfully  for application  in  the  Nuclear  Fusion  domain.  Diverterscurrently  use  copper  tubes  that  need  to  be  replaced  by  the  new  technology,  in  particular  in  view  of  future requirements  for  fusion  power  plants.  Further  application  areas  are  space,  such  as  for  electric  propulsion  components  made  of  tungsten,  as  well  as  (test)  facilities  outside the fusion domain but subject to high temperature and/or pressure regimes. The  technology  is  also  applicable  to  liquid  metal  transport  e.g.  use  in  new  solar  farms.

Fusion Heritage

The  innovative  application  and  production  of  pipes  made  of  refractory  metal  foils  was  developed  at  the  Karlsruhe  Institute  of  Technology  (KIT).  It  was  successfully  tested  and  patented.  It  shows  superior  performance,  i.e.  a  substantially  increased  ductility  and  resistance,  when  exposed  to  high  temperature  and/or  pressure compared to conventional metal pipes.

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