Investigating the effects of stress on the pore structures of nuclear grade graphites

Joshua Taylor, Graham Hall, Paul Mummery

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Graphite is used as a moderating material and as a structural component in a number of current generation nuclear reactors. During reactor operation stresses develop in the graphite components, causing them to deform. It is important to understand how the microstructure of graphite affects the material's response to these stresses.

    A series of experiments were performed to investigate how the pore structures of Pile Grade A and Gilsocarbon graphites respond to loading stresses. A compression rig was used to simulate the build-up of operational stresses in graphite components, and a confocal laser microscope was used to study variation of a number of important pore properties. Values of elastic modulus and Poisson's ratio were calculated and compared to existing literature to confirm the validity of the experimental techniques.

    Mean pore areas were observed to decrease linearly with increasing applied load, mean pore eccentricity increased linearly, and a small amount of clockwise pore rotation was observed. The response to build-up of stresses was dependent on the orientation of the pores and basal planes and the shapes of the pores with respect to the loading axis. It was proposed that pore closure and pore reorientation were competing processes. Pore separation was quantified using ‘nearest neighbour’ and Voronoi techniques, and non-pore regions were found to shrink linearly with increasing applied load.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)216-228
    JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
    Early online date24 Dec 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • graphite
    • gilsocarbon
    • AGR
    • porosity
    • stress


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