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Potential UROP Projects

We are always seeking interested and self-motivated undergraduates to join our group, get their hands dirty and dive head-first into a new research project. Freshmen are especially encouraged to apply!

If you want to know what it's like to work in our lab, please ask our current and past UROP students.

Here are some of our current projects for which UROPs may ask to join:

(Updated June 23rd, 2011)

Stress Corrosion Crack Growth in Alloy X-750 for Boiling Water Reactors

PI: Ron Ballinger
Graduate Student: Jon Gibbs

Abstract - Inconel Alloy X-750 is susceptible to irradiation assisted stress corrosion cracking and intergranular stress corrosion cracking in low temperature (<150°C) and high temperature (>250°C) water. Although X-750 is a mature material, the dominant crack growth mechanisms in nuclear environments are not well understood. This project seeks to understand the dominant mechanisms of crack growth in nuclear environments.

Projects are offered for either pay or credit. With respect to laboratory experience, while some experience is desired for these projects, this is NOT essential. The most important qualifications are an interest in corrosion/environmental degradation problems, a willingness to learn, AND the discipline necessary to make a schedule and to stick to it.

ALSO - You will get the chance to work with the BEST graduate students on Planet Earth as you get your hands dirty in the lab and burn your brain out doing analysis!

Current and Past UROPs
Development of a Functionally Graded Composite for Corrosion Resistance in Liquid Lead-Bismuth Reactors

UROP Students: Sara Ferry (current), Kevin Cunningham (current), Patrick Hoymak, Jay Seman, Diana Wang, Brian Baum, Sean Morton, Katie Chang, Ballin Smith, Faisal Amir
PI: Ron Ballinger
Graduate Student: Mike Short

Abstract: Lead and Lead-Bismuth Eutectic (LBE) promise to be one of the most useful coolants for Generation IV nuclear reactors in the near future. However, the problem of corrosion and liquid metal attack still remains. Because no one alloy can both resist lead or LBE attack AND retain high strength at operating temperatures (>700°C), a Functionally-Graded Composite (FGC) is being developed at MIT. The diffuisonal stability of this composite is an integral part to its success - if the two layers interdiffuse too much, the properties of each will be reduced. The composite is being tested by long-term aging of diffusion couples, along with analysis by optical and electron microscopy, nanohardness tests, XPS, SIMS, and EMPA in order to determine the diffusional stability of the proposed composite. Corrosion tests of the individual alloys are also underway to test the ability of each layer to resist LBE attack. Finally, commercial-scale production of the composite is underway in order to demonstrate immediate feasibility and incorporation into current reactor designs.
Spinodal Decomposition of Stainless Steel Welds in BWR Reactors

UROP Student: Lauren Ayers (current)
PI: Ron Ballinger
Graduate Student: Tim Lucas

Abstract - Spinodal decomposition is a precipitation process in ferritic Fe-Cr alloys where a phase separation occurs to form Cr-rich and Cr-lean phases in a periodic arrangement. In reference to boiling water reactors (BWR) the concern exists particularly in welds. A better understanding of spinodal decomposition effects on stainless steel welds will allow for improved engineering judgment in terms of the useful lifetime of welds at temperature.

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