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Lithium metazirconate for nuclear application: physical and mechanical properties

Lithium metazirconate is a candidate in fusion reactor designs as a tritium-breeding material. An amorphous powder was synthesized by gelling zirconium propylate and lithium acetate: after heat treatment at 900 °C, pure Li2ZrO3-l was obtained. Preliminary tests made on sintered pellets, obtained from this powder, demonstrated an appropriate tritium release at low temperature, when the sample porosity was about 20% and the mean pore radius 3 μm. The subject of this paper was to realize a good compromise between mechanical properties and the spread porosity, necessary for tritium diffusion. Dilatometric investigations were performed on compacts of powders treated at 800, 900 and 1000 °C to identify the best temperature and time of sintering. The calcined powders were also uniaxially pressed at 200, 300 and 500 MPa: the green bodies were sintered at 1200, 1250 and 1300 °C for 2 or 4 h, in order to produce ceramics having different porosity. On the sintered bodies, the pore size distribution, the mean pore radius and mechanical properties were evaluated.
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