Nuclear graphite is used as a neutron moderator in fission power stations. To investigate the microstructural changes that occur during such use, it has been studied for the first time by X-ray microtomography with in situ heating and compression. This experiment was the first to involve simultaneous heating and mechanical loading of radioactive samples at Diamond Light Source, and represented the first study of radioactive materials at the Diamond Manchester Imaging Branchline 113-2. Engineering methods and safety protocols were developed to ensure the safe containment of irradiated graphite as it was simultaneously compressed to 450N in a Deben 10kN Open-Frame Rig and heated to 300 degrees C with dual focused infrared lamps. Central to safe containment was a double containment vessel which prevented escape of airborne particulates while enabling compression via a moveable ram and the transmission of infrared light to the sample. Temperature measurements were made in situ via thermocouple readout. During heating and compression, samples were simultaneously rotated and imaged with polychromatic X-rays. The resulting microtomograms are being studied via digital volume correlation to provide insights into how thermal expansion coefficients and microstructure are affected by irradiation history, load and heat. Such information will be key to improving the accuracy of graphite degradation models which inform safety margins at power stations.
|Title of host publication
|Journal of Physics: Conference Series
|Subtitle of host publication
|X-ray Microscopy Conference 2016
|Published - 2017