SP-A: Pre-normative research on materials and component qualification and data management
Materials, structural, functional or fuel, in Generation IV reactors are exposed to very harsh conditions with respect to temperature, irradiation and corrosiveness. To license and construct Gen IV reactors it is necessary to demonstrate that components and materials operate safely and are fit for purpose in such environment for more than sixty years for non-replaceable components. This is done through Design codes, Assessment Procedures and standardized material tests and quality control. This qualification process is very rigorous and time consuming, which is a real obstacle for implementing new materials with superior properties or lower cost, as well as for licensing the first Gen IV reactor even when commercially available materials are used.
Subprogramme A bridges the more basic research and the engineering applications with emphasis on pre-normative research, i.e. research that supports the development of harmonized procedures, codes and Standards. A key objective is to shorten time to qualify materials for the harsher Gen IV conditions as well accelerate the implementation of new materials. Particular challenges include:
- qualification of new materials with high TR-level, as well as innovative materials or materials manufactured using advanced methods such as additive manufacturing, for deployment in Gen IV reactors;
- environmental effects from lead and lead-bismuth coolant such as corrosion and liquid metal embrittlement of reactor materials;
- extension of the design life of non-replaceable components from 40 to 60 years with emphasis on high temperature degradation;
The traditional standard tests, irradiation experiments, post irradiation examinations and engineering models remain very important, but much focus is on accelerating qualification and assessment procedures through innovative approaches e.g. miniaturized or accelerated test methods supported by integrated computational materials engineering, non-destructive testing and data based methods.