News for faculty and staff

Contact | Past Issues

Week of October 7, 2013

Mimicking nuclear reactor damage is goal of $5M grant


A new $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will enable University of Michigan engineering researchers to advance the understanding of how radiation damages nuclear reactor components.

The work could enable engineers to predict when and how components in nuclear power reactors will wear out, which would help them to keep reactors running safely and efficiently. It could also speed up the testing of tougher new materials for advanced reactor.

The researchers will determine how well damage from ion beams in the laboratory mirrors the actual damage that reactor components sustain during decades of service. An ion beam is a beam of electrically charged atoms, accelerated with electric fields.

“If we’re going to build advanced reactors or operate today’s reactors beyond their license lifetimes, we need to solve some materials problems,” said Gary Was, the Walter J. Weber Jr. Professor of Sustainable Energy, Environmental and Earth Systems Engineering, who heads the project. “France, Britain, Russia, Japan, they all have the same concern—how do materials behave at these very high radiation doses?”

The collaboration comprises national laboratories, industrial partners and universities in the U.S. and overseas, with about $9 million in funding from all sources.

Today, researchers don’t have an efficient way to mimic the radiation damage that current reactor components have sustained or the high damage expected in advanced reactor designs. It would take current test reactors 10 to 20 years to simulate those effects. But ion beams can reach a similar radiation dose in just a few days.

“The benefit is a huge reduction in time and cost that will enable much faster development of materials for nuclear reactors,” Was said.

But is that damage the same?

“That is the million-dollar question,” he said.

Other collaborators include: Emmanuelle Marquis, the Dow Corning Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; Zhijie Jiao, assistant research scientist in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences; and Jaime Marian, associate professor in the same department.

READER COMMENTS (0) POST A COMMENT 

Leave a comment

All fields are required.




email address will not be shown


Please enter the words you see below for anti-spam purposes:
NO SPAM

 

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

Jeff Ringenberg, lecturer IV for the Computer Science Engineering Division of the College of Engineering, on what inspires him: “Innovation and the pace of technology — the next new thing is always right there.”