Russia has invented a unique method of material testing for NPP reactors

By | September 27, 2020
Russia has invented a unique method of material testing for NPP reactors

Tomsk Polytechnic University offered a new tool for research of structural materials of nuclear reactors that has no analogs in the world – the so-called accelerated atom bundles. With their help it is possible to check new materials for radiation resistance much faster, says the press service of the university.
The results of the study, which TPU specialists conducted jointly with their colleagues from Dalian Polytechnic University (China), are presented at the VII International Congress “Energy Flows and Radiation Effects” (EFRE-2020) in Tomsk.

Structural elements of nuclear reactors, including those operating at nuclear power plants, are in very harsh conditions. During their life cycle, they are exposed to such an intense radiation load that the atoms of their crystal lattice change position, which causes radiation damage to these elements.
That is, reactor elements, primarily fuel elements, should not significantly change their properties during the entire operation, but at low radiation resistance, their deformation and destruction may occur. Therefore, increasing the stability of structural materials is one of the most important problems in radiation material science.
Scientists all over the world solve this problem by studying materials in terms of radiation resistance. For this purpose, they place them in the neutron irradiation chamber near the reactor and monitor the appearance of significant changes. Usually, such research takes several years, so this way is not very convenient for the rapid development of new materials and technologies.

As one of the authors of the study, professor of the Materials Science Department of TPU Alexander Pushkarev explained, now instead of neutron irradiation imitation irradiation by the beams of charged particles is used.
“At imitation irradiation, the same conditions are recreated as in the nuclear reactor at neutron beam irradiation, the same amount of radiation damage. However, the radiation load that one or another material gets in the nuclear reactor is obtained in a few hours instead of several years,” he noted.
Two instruments are used for imitation irradiation: electron beams and ion beams. However, the mechanisms of the formation of radiation defects during irradiation with the beams of charged particles and neutrons are significantly different, and this reduces the reliability of the study.
The building of Unit 4 with BN-800 reactor of Beloyarskaya NPP in Zarechny town of Sverdlovsk region – RIA Novosti, 1920, 11.02.2020
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Scientists from TPU offered a new tool – bundles of accelerated atoms. They are formed with the help of a generator of powerful ion beams developed by University Professor Gennady Remnev. First, a beam of accelerated ions is formed, then there is the process of recharging and formation of accelerated atoms and then accelerated atoms with the energy of hundreds of kilo electronvolts are used to irradiate materials.
“From the point of view of radiation material science, this is a unique tool. It differs in that it allows to quickly gain a dose similar to that of a nuclear reactor and to spend considerably less energy on defect formation. In addition, the mechanisms of defect formation in metals when irradiated by accelerated atoms and neutrons are very close. This makes it possible to increase the reliability of studies of radiation resistance of materials,” Pushkarev said.