A team at Idaho National Laboratory in collaboration with groups at Argonne and Oak Ridge national laboratories, as well as industry consultants and international partners, has for the first time in 30 years gotten a new material, Alloy 617, into the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. A combination of nickel, chromium, cobalt and molybdenum, Alloy 617 can be used in tomorrow's advanced nuclear plants because it allows higher temperature operation.
Oak Ridge National Labs is developing 3D printing of a nuclear reactor core using Alloy 617. The previously allowed high temperature materials could not be used above about 750o C (around 1,380o F). The new Alloy 617 can be used in design and construction up to 950o C [about 1,750o F]. This will enable new higher temperature concepts.
The achievement means that designers working on new high temperature nuclear power plant concepts now have 20% more options when it comes to component construction materials.