Development of an in-situ characterisation facility for both proton and neutron irradiation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Metallurgy and Materials


Nuclear research underpins the national energy strategy and plays a critical role in reducing the world's CO2 emissions. The currently world dominant nuclear reactor is the pressurised water-cooled reactors (PWR) which operates at high temperature and pressure using light water coolant, such as those at Sizewell B and Hinkley Point C in the UK. However, Generation IV reactors will have even higher operating temperatures and the Super-critical water-cooled reactor (SCWR) and molten salt reactor (MSR) are two of them.
Both PWR and Generation IV reactors operate under extreme conditions such as high temperature, high stress and corrosive environments. Most importantly however, is the inevitable irradiation damage which the reactors must simultaneously endure. Therefore, to assess the reliability and lifetime of these reactors it is critical that the mechanical and corrosion performance of structural materials are conducted under relevant service conditions (e.g. under irradiation). Since the decommissioning of DIDO test reactors, there is no suitable neutron sources in the UK for materials irradiation and testing. The University of Birmingham has a high energy proton source (MC40 Cyclotron) and an accelerator-based intense neutron source under development. Building on the Birmingham irradiation facility, this proposal will develop a suite of world unique characterisation equipment for assessing the mechanical properties and corrosion resistance of nuclear materials under simultaneous irradiation, offering a range of important capabilities that currently do not exist. The proposed facility will enable the tackling of a range of scientific challenges. It will enable the industry and universities to study the stress corrosion cracking under both PWR, SCWR and MSR conditions, to evaluate the new nuclear (both nuclear fission and fusion) materials currently being developed in many UK universities. The novel capabilities will benefit the wide UK and international nuclear research community. The proposed facility can be operated with or without simultaneous irradiation, thus will have a high duty cycle and strengthen the UK nuclear material research capacity.


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