High Fidelity Ion Beam Simulation of High Dose Neutron Irradiation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

The promise for developing new, advanced nuclear reactor concepts and the extension of life of existing light water nuclear reactors rests heavily on understanding how radiation degrades materials that serve as the structural components in reactor cores. In high dose fission reactor concepts (GEN-4) structural materials must survive up to 200 dpa of damage at temperatures in excess of 400C. At such high damage levels, the major degradation modes are likely to be driven by void swelling and phase stability. As materials degradation due to irradiation is both a life-limiting and a concept-validating phenomenon, it is truly the grand challenge for the growth and vitality of nuclear energy world-wide.
Traditionally, research to understand radiation-induced changes in materials is conducted via radiation effects experiments in test reactors, followed by a comprehensive post-irradiation characterization plan. However, test reactors cannot create radiation damage significantly faster than that in commercial reactors, meaning that radiation damage research often cannot "get ahead" of problems discovered during operation.
A promising solution to the problem is to use ion irradiation that can produce high damage rates with little or no residual radioactivity. The advantages of ion irradiation are many. Dose rates (typically 10-3 to 10-4 dpa/s) are much higher than under neutron irradiation (10-7 to 10-8 dpa/s) which means that 200 dpa can be reached in days or weeks instead of decades. Because there is little activation the samples are not radioactive. Control of ion irradiation experiments is much better than experiments in reactor. Measurement of temperature, damage rate and damage level is difficult in reactor, resulting in reliance on calculations to determine the total dose, and estimate irradiation temperature. By contrast, ion irradiations have been developed to the point where temperature is extremely well controlled and monitored, and damage rate and total damage are also measured continuously throughout the irradiation and with great accuracy.
However, ion irradiation has several potential drawbacks; the volume of irradiated material, the effect of high damage rate on the resulting microstructure, and the need to account for important transmutation reactions that occur in reactor, such as the production of He and H. Understanding and modeling the microstructure-property relationship, and the development of micro-sample fabrication and testing, while not a replacement for bulk property determination, hold the promise for minimizing the drawback of limited irradiated volume. The extent to which high damage rates can produce microstructures relevant to reactor conditions is a major challenge, but significant progress is being made to address this issue.
The strategy to account for transmutation reactions is to simultaneously irradiate a target with heavy ions while also bombarding it with He and/or H. Such a process requires multiple accelerators coupled in a double or triple beam facility. Recently, the UK has begun development of a plan to create such a double beam facility at its Dalton Cumbrian Facility and the proposed project will underpin this activity.
To qualify ion irradiation it is necessary to reproduce as best as possible both the neutron irradiated microstructure and the neutron-induced macroscopic property changes using ion irradiation. This task is best addressed using a combination of state of the art experimental techniques closely coupled to modeling, which can yield mechanistic understanding of the defect development process, while taking into account in the experimental design and theoretical modeling the possible confounding factors mentioned above.

Planned Impact

The industrial and technological impact of this work lies in the role it will play in making best use of all the different types of data, existing and future, on the effects of irradiation damage in materials. Neutron-irradiation experiments are in most senses definitive, but are slow and expensive to perform. Ion irradiation experiments provide accelerated testing environment, are widely used, produce non-active materials that can be readily tested in "ordinary" laboratories, but there are many problems with relating results from these experiments to those from neutron irradiation.

This project aims to use experiment and modelling to firmly link results from these two complementary experimental methods. As such there will be a very high degree of potential and actual impact in the use of structural materials in the nuclear power industry. This will be for both current nuclear installations - lifetime extension, and effects of material embrittlement in potential accident situations, and for nuclear new build, where the rapid assessment of existing and potential new materials in the higher radiation flux and higher temperature environments projected for the next generation of nuclear materials is highly important.

Publications

10 25 50
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Wady P (2016) Accelerated radiation damage test facility using a 5 MV tandem ion accelerator in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

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Prasitthipayong A (2018) Micro mechanical testing of candidate structural alloys for Gen-IV nuclear reactors in Nuclear Materials and Energy

 
Description - Developed understanding of irradiation damage to in-reactor materials.
- Development of in-situ TEM techniques.
- Better understanding of the suitability of heavy ion irradiation to simulate neutron irradiation.
Exploitation Route Findings may be influential in shaping future work on developing new nuclear materials. As the work was a collaboration with the US, the entire work has shown what the UK could and should do within the Nuclear theme of the Royce Institute.
Sectors Energy

 
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 Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2024
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Areva
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Argonne National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Idaho National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Los Alamos National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Penn State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Queen's University
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Saclay Nuclear Research Centre
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation Terra Power LLC
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation University of California, Berkeley
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation University of California, Santa Barbara
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation University of Michigan
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation University of South Carolina
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation University of Tennessee
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014
 
Description HiFi 
Organisation University of Wisconsin-Madison
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution US-European collaboration on irradiation effects. Manchester's contribution has been work in the areas of TEM analysis, synchrotron irradiation, ion irradiations, and atomistic modeling.
Collaborator Contribution Partners have made various contributions to the project, according to their relative expertise.
Impact Project at around mid-point, outcomes are developing, and the collaboration is progressing, but it is too early to comment on substantive outputs,
Start Year 2014