ORNL provides technical leadership to the LWRS Program through the Materials Aging and Degradation Pathway. This technology pathway (led by Dr. Jeremy Busby) is focused on developing the scientific basis for understanding and predicting long-term environmental degradation behavior of materials used in nuclear power plant (NPP) structures, systems and components (SSCs), and providing data and methods to assess and enhance the performance of SSCs essential to safe and sustained operation of the plants. The Materials Aging and Degradation Pathway at ORNL collaborates with representatives of DOE national laboratories (Idaho National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Pacific Northwest National Laboatory), nuclear industry (Electric Power Research Institute, reactor vendors and owners groups) and international organizations (International Atomic Energy Agency, Materials Aging Institute and others) on materials R&D activities directed at understanding and mitigating the aging effects on SSCs from extended service. The pathway R&D products will be used by utilities, industry groups and regulators to define operational and regulatory requirements/limits for materials in plant SSCs subject to long-term operation conditions.
The major R&D areas under the Materials Aging and Degradation Pathway include the following:
Reactor Metals – Numerous types of metal alloys can be found throughout the primary and secondary systems of NPPs. Plant operating environments create material degradation mechanisms that may be unique or environmentally exacerbated. Research projects in this area will provide a greater technical foundation to help determine remaining useful life for metallic components exposed to long-term operating environments.