NRG starts irradiation to support life-time extension Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors


A new irradiation capsule for accelerated aging of graphite as used in AGR reactors has started irradiation in the High Flux Reactor in Petten. The irradiation started two months ahead of the original planning and the online monitoring results demonstrate excellent control of the irradiation conditions.

The irradiation is part of a research program initiated by an alliance of EDF Energy, NRG, Frazer Nash Consultancy and ATKINS in support of ageing management of AGR (Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor) reactors in the UK. Project ‘BLACKSTONE’ will run for four more years and combines the nuclear infrastructure of NRG with expertise of graphite specialists and engineers to provide data that can be used in safety cases to support AGR plant life extension. Phase 3 of BLACKSTONE focuses on the graphite from the Heysham 2 and Torness reactors and is a follow-up of Blackstone Phases 1 and 2, in which graphite from other AGRs was successfully characterised to support life time extension.As part of the project, graphite material extracted from AGRs is irradiated in the High Flux Reactor in Petten (the Netherlands) that is operated by NRG. During the HFR irradiation both the in-core neutron and oxidation damage mechanisms that take place in an AGR are simulated and accelerated under representative conditions. Following the irradiation, graphite specimens are characterised in the NRG Hot Cell Laboratories to provide high quality material behaviour data, providing essential input to graphite property models which are used to assess the future structural integrity of AGR cores.

The expertise and quality of NRG irradiations and measurements in combination with analysis support from Frazer Nash Consultancy and ATKINS is recognized by both EDF Energy and the UK regulator (ONR). Current data from previous BLACKSTONE phases is used in safety studies on the basis of which a total combined 40 reactor years of lifetime

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