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The structural integrity of nuclear graphite bricks is important in Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGRs) as they not only provide moderation but channels for fuel, cooling and control rods. AGR graphite moderator bricks are subjected to fast neutron irradiation and radiolytic oxidation during reactor operation, leading to component dimensional and material properties changes. With irradiation ageing the graphite components deform in the axial and radial directions causing changes to bore diameter and brick length. Furthermore, deformation at the brick end faces (called dishing) can lead to the formation of axial gaps between the bricks which can then lead to fuel channel bowing. However, it is believed that irradiation creep reduces the potential size of these axial gaps and retains bricks in contact to some extent. Therefore, as the reactors age it is important to understand the nature of this contact behaviour between bricks in the fuel channels. This paper focuses primarily on the finite element modelling of contact behaviour between bricks and the effects of irradiation-induced creep on contact conditions and hence, ovality of the brick bore. Multilayer fuel brick models and a brick with a rigid body on the top surface have been modelled. The results show that multilayer models are required to understand the contact conditions between the bricks throughout the life of a reactor.
- Creep interaction
- Finite element modelling of AGR bricks