Performance and Reliability of Metallic Materials for Nuclear Fission Power Generation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

In this research programme we will address fundamental research challenges for the long-term performance and stability of materials for nuclear fission power plant. The lifetime of power plant components is limited because of limits in their endurance under exposure to high temperatures, high loads, radiation, and the effects of cycling of load and temperature; there are issues related to corrosion that are exacerbated by applied stresses and residual stresses in materials; and the high neutron radiation flux in the core of the reactor generates progressive damage that must be understood if we are to be able to design new materials for future reactor systems with improved lifetimes and efficient use of nuclear fuel. This research programme will underpin the development of the nuclear fission power generation systems of the future.Metallic systems used in nuclear reactors range from pressure vessel steels to fuel cladding tubes to stainless steels used in the heat exchangers. The particular operating conditions for each component are unique and require carefully tailored materials properties. There are significant challenges in enhancing materials performance for operations at higher temperatures for longer lifetimes, and we have to improve our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms by which materials degrade and by which damage develops in nuclear reactors and their associated high-temperature plant.We will address fundamental research problems in improving the long-term performance of materials for nuclear plant exposed to service conditions of high temperatures, high neutron radiation fluences and complex load histories. The critical research challenges that arise for materials performance under these conditions are Materials Stability and Degradation and State Monitoring of Materials . We propose to address them through a broad collaborative programme incorporating the leading UK university groups and our wide network of external partners.The research programme is targeted mainly at the theme of Long term materials behaviour , but with a significant contribution in the area of fuel cladding materials . We have integrated work in these two areas because there is significant commonality in the research methodology (experimental and modelling) required for the study of the different metallic systems and because of our experience of the significant benefits that flow from maintaining close relationships with other nuclear research programmes in partner institutions.From our previous track record, we confidently expect a high degree of gearing as the work of the new consortium will complement and bring together our existing individual programmes, funded by industry and the Research Councils. In addition to delivering new research outputs and a cohort of trained researchers, this will place us in a strong position to respond effectively and in a coordinated manner to future funding opportunities from industry, the EU and the wider international nuclear community.

Publications

10 25 50

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Gai X (2016) Inert gas bubbles in bcc Fe in Journal of Nuclear Materials

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Gai X (2015) Helium bubbles in bcc Fe and their interactions with irradiation in Journal of Nuclear Materials

 
Description Research supported by this grant is contributing to a large research programme on degradation of commercial Zr alloys with industrial partners from the USA, France and the UK. The aim of the programme is to design improved Zr alloys to reduce the cost of nuclear power generation.
Exploitation Route new materials for exploitation in high burn up fuel campaigns in nuclear reactors through our industrial colleagues - including Rolls-Royce
Sectors Energy

 
Description Characterisation of Nanomaterials for Energy
Amount £1,095,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K032518/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2013 
End 05/2018
 
Description Corrosion and hydrogen pick-up mechanisms in zirconium nuclear fuel cladding alloys in active environments
Amount £579,688 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M018237/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2015 
End 06/2018
 
Description Effect of Zr on the microstructure of corrosion resistant ODS steels
Amount £290,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M017540/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2018
 
Description MIDAS - Mechanistic understanding of Irradiation Damage in fuel Assemblies
Amount £7,226,655 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S01702X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2024