The activities of the Irradiation Performance Section (IPS) are aimed at determining and assessing normal-operation and accident behavior of neutron-irradiated material throughout the life cycle of the materials. The conditions of interest are normal in-reactor operation, design-basis accidents, intermediate storage in pools and dry casks, and ultimate internment in a repository. Fuel and cladding material (fission reactors) and tritium-breeder and structural materials (fusion reactors) are exposed to intense neutron and gamma radiation fields, high temperatures and heat fluxes, and corrosive environments. Pre-test characterization, testing and post-test characterization are used, along with fundamental materials science and modeling, to determine the response of these nuclear materials to their radiation, temperature, and chemical environment. The expertise in ceramic and metal fuels, tritium-breeder ceramics, cladding and structural materials remains within IPS. However, the focus of the research has shifted with a major change in facilities available for testing. Prior to 2006, characterization and testing of irradiated fuel, cladding and fueled-cladding were conducted in the Alpha-Gamma Hot Cell Facility (AGHCF), while mechanical properties of defueled cladding and structural materials were determined in the Irradiated Materials Laboratory (IML). In early 2006, the AGHCF was closed to programmatic work. The current emphasis is on continuing the research on cladding and structural materials in refurbished glove boxes and the beta-gamma hot cells in the IML. Fuels characterization and testing is now outsourced under IPS supervision.
The facilities currently available for IPS research include glove boxes and IML hot cells for work with irradiated materials and general laboratory space for characterization and testing of as-fabricated and pre-hydrided materials. The glove boxes in lab DL-114 have been refurbished to enable: pre- and post-test hydrogen-content determination, oxygen-content determination, optical microscopy; sample sectioning and astro-arc welding of irradiated cladding alloys. A transmission electron microscope (TEM) has been installed in a new lab space for high-resolution studies of irradiated materials. A new electro-discharge machine has been installed in one of the beta-gamma IML cells for precise cutting of gauge sections for mechanical properties testing of irradiated cladding and structural materials. The LOCA (loss-of-coolant-accident) Integral and Oxidation Apparatus has been installed in another IML cell for determining the behavior of high-burnup cladding alloys to high-temperature steam oxidation and water quench. Mechanical properties are measured in a servohydraulic Instron enclosed in a glove box. Baseline data for as-fabricated and pre-hydrided materials are generated with similar equipment in non-radiological laboratories.
In the Press
Last Modified: Fri, February 12, 2010 4:52 PM