Consortium on Cladding and Structural Materials for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems

Participants : G. S. Was, PI and L. Wang, Co PI; with U. WisconsinU. C. BerkeleyU. C. Santa BarbaraPenn State Univ.and Alabama A&M
SponsorU.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) and Electric Power Research Institute

The goal of this consortium is to address key materials issues in the most promising advanced reactor concepts that are yet to be resolved, or that are beyond the existing experience (dose/burnup) base, in order to 1) provide for a sound fundamental and engineering basis for operation in the intended application, 2) bring together key university, national laboratory and industry capability and support in order to provide the most comprehensive approach possible, and 3) create a long term, evolutionary program that seeks to address these and future nuclear materials issues in a progressive manner. This consortium will serve as a nucleation site, about which materials research activities will be catalyzed and grown among the leading individuals and institutions from academia, the national laboratories and industry. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to combine expertise and facilities in an effort to attack the challenge of materials behavior under irradiation on a scale that is not feasible for a single individual or institution.

The objectives of the initial three-year phase of the consortium are to:

  • Develop an understanding of the high dose radiation stability of candidate sodium fast reactor (SFR) cladding and duct alloys under a range of temperatures and doses expected in the SFR, using a closely integrated program combining targeted charged particle and neutron irradiations, in-situ irradiation and computer simulation of defect microstructure
  • Determine the stability of oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) steel and ultrafine, precipitation strengthened (HT-UPS) austenitic steel
  • Characterize and understand the mechanisms of irradiation creep in SiC in TRISO fuel, ferritic-martensitic (F-M) alloys and ODS and UT-UPS steels
  • Develop barrier layers for protection of F-M alloys from fuel-clad chemical interaction, and of alloy 617 from attack by coolant impurities in the VHTR intermediate heat exchanger
  • Develop modeling tools to explain the behavior of F-M steels under irradiation, and predictive tools to extend the reach of our understanding beyond the experimental database

The objectives will be accomplished in a research program consisting of three major thrusts: 1) high dose radiation stability of advanced fast reactor fuel cladding alloys, 2) irradiation creep at high temperature and 3) innovative cladding concepts embodying functionally-graded barrier materials. While the initial three-year program will emphasize ion irradiation and irradiated microstructures, we expect that, if successful, the second three-year program will increasingly emphasize reactor irradiations and will include mechanical property determination through national user facilities. Industry partners (EPRI and GE) will utilize the core program as leverage to guide or support additional activities that are of special interest to them, and that fall within the scope of the core program. National laboratory partners (ANL, INL, LANL, ORNL and PNNL) will provide additional capability and direction to various aspects of the core program that are of interest to them. Our technical society partner, ASME, will introduce the data generated by the consortium into the ASME Codes & Standards (C&S) process. Beyond scientific achievements, this consortium will provide substantial additional outcomes that are expected to provide long term benefits to the advanced rector program, including the education of around eight graduate students and several post-docs, inclusion of minority students into the radiation effects and reactor materials fields through the participation of Alabama A&M University (a HBCU institution), creation of new working relationships between universities, laboratories and industry in an unprecedented manner and to an unprecedented degree, and establishment of a pathway to begin to incorporate data generated by the research thrusts into the ASME codes and standards that will be crucial for success of the advanced reactor programs.