Composites for Nuclear Structural Applications

L. Snead (Sp), W.E. Windes, J. Klett, T.D. Burchell, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA) 
The next generation of nuclear power plants are pushing the envelope of materials performance and in particular pushing the upper temperature limit of current structural materials. As example, the currently envisioned Very High Temperature Reactor, whose primary purpose is hydrogen production, expects to utilize core moderating and structural components above 1000°C under normal operating conditions. Moreover, critical components such as control rod assemblies will undergo radiation damage approaching 100 dpa. In this example both temperature and dose eliminate all structural alloys and call for the first application of ceramic composites as structural materials. This paper will discuss the use and limitation of the two most mature systems, the carbon fiber composite and continuous fiber silicon carbide composite. Moreover, the current status of a program aimed at qualifying their use of nuclear power reactors will be discussed.

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