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A key component in evaluating the ability of Light Water Reactors to operate beyond 60 years is characterizing the degradation of materials exposed to radiation and various water chemistries. Of particular concern is the response of reactor materials to Irradiation Assisted Stress Corrosion Cracking (IASCC). Some test reactors outside the United States, such as the Halden Boiling Water Reactor (HBWR), have developed techniques to measure crack growth propagation during irradiation. The basic approach is to use a custom-designed compact loading mechanism to stress the specimen during irradiation, while the crack in the specimen is monitored in-situ using the Direct Current Potential Drop (DCPD) method. In 2012 the US Department of Energy commissioned the Idaho National Laboratory and the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory (MIT NRL) to take the basic concepts developed at the HBWR and adapt them to a test rig capable of conducting in-pile IASCC tests in US Material Test Reactors. The first two and half years of the project consisted of designing and testing the loader mechanism, testing individual components of the in-pile rig and electronic support equipment, and autoclave testing of the rig design prior to insertion in the MIT Reactor. The load was applied to the specimenmore » by means of a scissor like mechanism, actuated by a miniature metal bellows driven by pneumatic pressure and sized to fit within the small in-core irradiation volume. In addition to the loader design, technical challenges included developing robust connections to the specimen for the applied current and voltage measurements, appropriate ceramic insulating materials that can endure the LWR environment, dealing with the high electromagnetic noise environment of a reactor core at full power, and accommodating material property changes in the specimen, due primarily to fast neutron damage, which change the specimen resistance without additional crack growth. The project culminated with an in-pile demonstration at the MIT Reactor. The test rig and associated support equipment were used to apply loads to a representative Compact Tensile specimen during one MITR operating cycle, while measuring crack growth using the DCPD method. Although the test period was short (approximately 70 days), and the accumulated neutron dose relatively small, successful operation of the test rig was demonstrated. The specimen was cycled more than 8000 times (more than would be typical for a long term IASCC test), which was sufficient to propagate a crack of over 2 mm.« less
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Conference: 2016 International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants, San Francisco, CA, USA, 4/17/2016 - 4/20/2016
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Crack Growth; Irradiation Assisted Stress Corrosion Cracking; Reactor Experiments; Reactor Instrumentation