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Title: Role of nuclear grade graphite in controlling oxidation in modular HTGRs

The passively safe High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) design is one of the primary concepts considered for Generation IV and Small Modular Reactor (SMR) programs. The helium cooled, nuclear grade graphite moderated core achieves extremely high operating temperatures allowing either industrial process heat or electricity generation at high efficiencies. In addition to their neutron moderating properties, nuclear grade graphite core components provide excellent high temperature stability, thermal conductivity, and chemical compatibility with the high temperature nuclear fuel form. Graphite has been continuously used in nuclear reactors since the 1940’s and has performed remarkably well over a wide range of core environments and operating conditions. Graphite moderated, gas-cooled reactor designs have been safely used for research and power production purposes in multiple countries since the inception of nuclear energy development. However, graphite is a carbonaceous material, and this has generated a persistent concern that the graphite components could actually burn during either normal or accident conditions [ , ]. The common assumption is that graphite, since it is ostensibly similar to charcoal and coal, will burn in a similar manner. While charcoal and coal may have the appearance of graphite, the internal microstructure and impurities within these carbonaceous materials are verymore » different. Volatile species and trapped moisture provide a source of oxygen within coal and charcoal allowing them to burn. The fabrication process used to produce nuclear grade graphite eliminates these oxidation enhancing impurities, creating a dense, highly ordered form of carbon possessing high thermal diffusivity and strongly (covalently) bonded atoms.« less
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  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Country of Publication:
United States
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS burning; graphite; high temperature gas-cooled reactor; modular high temperature gas-cooled reacto; NGNP; RCCS Reactor Cavity Cooling System; SMR Small Modular Reactor; TDO; TRISO Tristructural-Isotropic; VHTR