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Materials Science at Oregon State University

Impact of radiation-induced changes in dimension and mechanical properties of reactor structural components

Date: Thursday, Jan 17th
Presenter: Dr. Frank A. Garner, Radiation Effects Consulting, Texas A and M University


The economics and safety of nuclear reactors often is limited more by issues concerning structural materials than by fuel or nuclear issues. When subjected to neutron irradiation at elevated temperatures alloys used to construct the structural components of nuclear reactors undergo extensive changes in microstructure and often in phase stability. These microstructural and microchemical changes can lead to significant dimensional distortion and changes in volume of reactor components via the interactive processes of radiation-induced precipitation, void swelling and irradiation creep. Additionally there are often strong changes induced in the mechanical properties of structural steels.

A review of these phenomena and their impact on the continued functionality and lifetime of reactor structural components will be presented.

For four decades Frank Garner has played a prominent role in the international radiation damage and nuclear reactor communities as a technical contributor and a scientific leader. His studies on the response to neutron radiation of structural alloys have led to significant revisions of the nuclear community’s perception of materials issues involving void swelling, irradiation creep, embrittlement, transmutation and radiation-enhanced corrosion. He is adept at transferring scientific findings into engineering consequences and solutions for operating reactors.

Dr. Garner’s studies first focused on liquid metal fast breeder reactors, broadened into the fusion reactor field, and then turned to materials issues of light-water and heavy water reactors, as well as accelerator-driven spallation neutron sources. He has had a strong impact on the worldwide development and application of alloys for fast breeder and fusion reactors. His proposal in 1994 that pressurized water reactors would experience strong and unanticipated effects from void swelling and Irradiation creep has proven to be correct, based first on his subsequent studies conducted In Russia and Kazakhstan and confirmed in later studies In Western reactors, with the issue now being considered as an important criterion for plant life extension of PWRs.

Dr. Garner’s work ranges from fundamental to applied, and from experimental to theoretical. He contributes to the body of knowledge as a single author and team participant or leader. He has been involved in many formal and informal international collaborative efforts and has conducted experiments in the USA, Japan, Europe and a number of former Soviet States. He was Program Coordinator for the U.S./Japan Fusion Materials Collaboration Using Fission Reactors and has served on numerous advisory committees and panels, such as the Materials Science Program Advisory Committee for the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility, Materials Working Group for the Accelerator Production of Tritium Project, various working groups of the EPRI reactor Internals programs (CIR, JOBB, AARM), Domestic Irradiation Facilities Evaluation Panel, GNEP Facilities Review, Cooperative Research Project SMoRE for the IAEA, etc. He has been the US Principal Investigator on numerous projects in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan funded by ISTC, STCU, CRDF, and NATO. He currently leads a strong international effort involving ion simulation of neutron-induced swelling with Ukrainian, Russian and U.S. partners. He frequently serves on International Committees for Symposia held in former Soviet countries, Asia and Europe.

Education—B.Sc. Chemical Engineering (1963) and D.Sc. in Nuclear Engineering with Materials Science emphasis (1970) both at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.