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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R005745/1
Title: Mechanisms of Retention and Transport of Fission Products in Virgin and Irradiated Nuclear Graphite
Principal Investigator: Jolley, Dr K
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 March 2018 Ends: 30 September 2021 Value (£): 319,922
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Nuclear
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Jun 2017 Nuclear Energy Universities Programme (NEUP) EPSRC/US Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK has long experience in the operation of Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors, which rely many tonnes of nuclear-grade graphite which has a dual role, firstly to slow down (moderate) neutrons to enhance nuclear fission and secondly to provide structure in the rather extreme environment in the reactor core, comprising high temperatures and intense radiation.

Designs of reactor for the next generation of nuclear reactors being developed in the USA, such as high temperature gas reactors and molten salt reactors also rely on graphite, and will require a good scientific understanding of its properties under irradiation, particularly under higher temperature conditions. Therefore, fundamental studies are required to reveal the mechanisms underlying graphite behavior, before these new reactor concepts can be taken through the design process and be licensed for operation.

A big issue for these new reactor designs is the retention of activated fission products within graphite, and their subsequent potential release during decommissioning. This includes the complex graphitic matrix material used in fuel pebbles for Pebble Bed Modular Reactor designs.

This is a joint experimental-computational approach to measure the diffusivities of fission products (FPs) - Iodine (I), Cesium (Cs), Krypton (Kr), Strontium (Sr), Ruthenium (Ru) and Silver (Ag), and Europium (Eu) in four graphite grades - HOPG, NBG-18, PCEA and IG-110, and uncover the mechanisms of transport using multiscale simulations involving electronic structure, atomistic, and phase field methods

The UK teams at Manchester and at Loughborough will be working with the USA groups based in University of Central Florida, North Carolina State University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory on this problem. Manchester will be contributing experimental measurements on legacy graphite from the AGR and Magnox reactor programmes and Loughborough will be using theoretical methods to elucidate electronic structure and energy landscapes of the FPs within realistic models of the graphite at the beginning of service, and graphite after decades of exposure to neutron and gamma radiation.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk