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Understanding the effect of specimen size on the properties of fine-grain isotropic nuclear graphite for irradiation studies:...

by Anne A Campbell, Andrew A Wereszczak, Mary Snead, Yutai Kato
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Journal of Nuclear Materials
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Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are investigating the effects of neutron irradiation in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) on properties of fine-grain isotropic nuclear graphites. Specimens were irradiated in the HFIR flux trap, which requires using specimens that are smaller than the sizes recommended by ASTM standards. This work has investigated whether subsized specimens can be used to reliably predict strength behavior. The results show that (1) tensile strength was loosely coupled to specimen volume, (2) the compression specimens had a slightly higher strength for larger volumes, (3) the uniaxial flexural strength was nearly independent of specimen effective area for one orientation whereas the other orientation showed a slight strength–size scaling Weibull behavior, and (4) equibiaxial flexural strength followed traditional strength–size scaling Weibull behavior. These results suggest that fine-grain graphite is more similar to ceramics than to medium- and large-grained graphite with respect to both the strength-limiting flaws (Griffith theory) and the effect of machining on the strength behavior. This work shows that using specimens that are smaller than ASTM recommendations are suitable for investigating the strength changes caused by neutron irradiation because the primary interest is the relative change in the strength distribution parameters rather than their absolute values.