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Effects of Microstructural Composition, Porosity, and Microcracks on the Elastic Moduli of Nuclear Graphites

by James Spicer, Jose' D Arregui Mena, Cristian I Contescu, Nidia C Gallego
Publication Type
Book Chapter
Publication Date
Page Numbers
34 to 53
Publisher Name
Publisher Location
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, United States of America

The elastic responses of nuclear graphite not only depend on the graphitic content itself but are largely dictated by the microstructural constitution of the material. The types of raw materials combined with the manufacturing processes used to produce the graphite yield the microstructural content that primarily includes graphite filler, graphitized pitch binder, and voids/defects that typically occupy approximately 20% of the volume. Among these microstructural components, porosity and microcracking (considered to be part of voids/defects) heavily influence the overall properties of the material, including the elastic moduli. It is widely accepted that the primary effect of oxidation is to increase porosity, but the related effect on the moduli cannot be explained satisfactorily by simply noting changes to porosity. Models describing the elastic moduli of porous, polycrystalline graphite materials have been developed to interpret experimental determinations of Young's modulus and shear modulus in oxidized graphites. Beyond porosity, the moduli are heavily influenced by microcracks, and their effects can be assessed using physical property models based on orientation distribution coefficients and microcrack-modified, single-crystal moduli to represent the combined effects of crystallite orientation and microcracking. This work demonstrates how most modulus measurements in nuclear graphites can be understood using relatively simple models that describe the effects of porosity and microcracking. We also present directions to be pursued to account for microstructure-related effects that occur as a result of neutron irradiation.