Date of Award

12-1990

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

T. W. Kerlin

Committee Members

H. C. Roland, P. N. Stevens, L. F. Miller, W. T. Becker

Abstract

The objective of this dissertation was to establish credibility and confidence levels of the observed behavior of nuclear graphite in neutron irradiation environment. Available experimental data associated with the OC-series irradiation-induced creep experiments performed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) were examined.

Pre- and postirradiation measurement data were studied considering "linear" and "nonlinear" creep models. The nonlinear creep model considers the creep coefficient to vary with neutron fluence due to the densification of graphite with neutron irradiation. Within the range of neutron fluence involved (up to 0.53 x 1026 neutrons/m2, E > 50 KeV), both models were capable of explaining about 96% and 80% of the variation of the irradiation-induced creep strain with neutron fluence at temperatures of 600°C and 900°C, respectively.

Temperature and reactor power data were analyzed to determine the best estimates for the actual irradiation temperatures. It was determined according to thermocouple readouts that the best estimate values for the irradiation temperatures were well within ±10°C of the design temperatures of 600°C and 900°C.

The dependence of the secondary creep coefficients (for both linear and nonlinear models) on irradiation temperature was determined assuming that the variation of creep coefficient with temperature, in the temperature range studied, is reasonably linear. It was concluded that the variability in estimate of the creep coefficients is definitely not the results of temperature fluctuations in the experiment.

The coefficients for the constitutive equation describing the overall growth of grade H-451 graphite were also studied. It was revealed that the modulus of elasticity and the shear modulus are not affected by creep and that the electrical resistivity is slightly (less than 5%) changed by creep. However, the coefficient of thermal expansion does change with creep.

The consistency of calculated Poisson's ratios for primary and secondary creep with volume change, caused by irradiation-induced creep, was also investigated. It was determined that these ratios were consistent with the volume change.

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