Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Madhu S. Madhukar

Committee Members

J.A.M. Boulet, John D. Landes


Several problems must be solved in the construction, design, and operation of a nuclear fusion reactor. One of the chief problems in the manufacture of high-powered copper/polymer composite magnets is the difficulty to precisely control the fiber volume fraction. In this thesis, the effect of variations in fiber volume fraction on thermal stresses in copper/cyanate ester composite cylinders is investigated. The cylinder is a composite that uses copper wires that run longitudinally in a cyanate ester resin specifically developed by Composite Technology Development, Inc. This composite cylinder design is commonly used in magnets for nuclear fusion reactors. The application of this research is for magnets that use cylindrical coil geometry such as the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) in the UK. However, most stellarator magnet designs use complex geometries including the National Compact Stellarator Experiment (NCSX), and the Quasi-Poloidal Stellarator (QPS). Even though the actual stresses calculated for the cylindrical geometry may not be directly applicable to these projects, the relationship between fiber volume fraction and stresses will be useful for any geometry. The effect of fiber volume fraction on stresses produced by mechanical, thermal and magnetic loads on cylindrical magnet coils is studied using micromechanics with laminate plate theory (LPT) and finite element analysis (FEA).

Based on the findings of this research, variations in volume fraction do significantly affect the stress experienced by the composite cylinder. Over a range of volume fractions from 0.3 to 0.5, the LPT results demonstrate that thermally induced stresses vary approximately 30% while stresses due to pressure vary negligibly. The FEA shows that magnetic stresses vary much less at around only 5%. FEA results seem to confirm the LPT model. It was also concluded that the stress in the insulation layers due to all types of loadings is significant and must be considered when using this system in fusion applications.

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