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Title: New Technologies for Repairing Aging Cables in Nuclear Power Plants

The goal of this project is to demonstrate a proof-of-concept for a technique to repair aging cables that have been subjected to degradation associated with long-term thermal and radiation exposure in nuclear power plants. The physical degradation of the aging cables manifests itself primarily as cracking and increased brittleness of the polymeric electrical insulation. Therefore, the proposed cable-repair concept comprises development of techniques to impart a softening agent within the deteriorated polymer insulation jacket so as to regain the ability of the insulation to stretch without failing and possibly to heal existing cracks in the insulation. Our approach is to use commercially available ethylene-propylene rubber (EPR) as the relevant test material, demonstrate the adsorption of chemical treatments in the EPR and quantify changes in resulting physical and mechanical properties. EPR cable samples have been thermally treated in air to produce specimens corresponding to the full range of cable age-performance points from new (>350% elongation at break) to end-of-life (<50% elongation at break). The current focus is on two chemical treatments selected as candidates for restoring age-related cable elasticity loss: a rubber plasticizer and a reactive silane molecule. EPR specimens of 200, 150, 100, and 50% elongation at break have beenmore » soaked in the candidate chemical treatments and the kinetics of chemical uptake, measured by change in mass of the samples, has been determined. Mechanical properties as a function of aging and chemical treatment have been measured including ultimate tensile strength, tensile modulus at 50% strain, elongation at break, and storage modulus. Dimensional changes with treatment and changes in glass transition temperature were also investigated. These ongoing experiments are expected to provide insight into the physical-chemical nature of the effect of thermal degradation on EPR rejuvenation limits and to advance novel methods for restoring the ability of degraded EPR to be compliant and resist fracture. The results of this research reveal that absorption of chemical treatments can lower the glass transition temperature and modulus of EPR. Chemical treatments pursued thus far have proven ineffective at restoring EPR strength and elongation at break. Future work will combine the plasticizer modalities found to successfully increase the volume of the EPR, reduce EPR glass transition temperature and reduce EPR modulus with promising chemistries that will repair the damage of the polymer, potentially using the plasticizer as a host for the new chemistry.« less
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  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Nuclear Cables; Aging cables; cable rejuvenation; Ethylene propylene rubber