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Non-nuclear energy

PERFECT

Fission and radiation protection
Fusion
   

Prediction of Irradiation Damage Effects on Reactor Components

In nuclear power reactors, materials may undergo degradation due to severe irradiation conditions that limit their operation life. Continuous progress in the physical understanding of the phenomena involved and in computer sciences has made possible the development of multi-scale numerical tools able to simulate the effects of irradiation on mechanical and corrosion properties of materials. PERFECT aims at developing such predictive tools for reactor pressure vessels and internal structures.


Prediction of Irradiation Damage Effects on Reactor Components

In nuclear power reactors, materials may undergo degradation due to severe irradiation conditions that limit their operation life. Continuous progress in the physical understanding of the phenomena involved and in computer sciences has made possible the development of multi-scale numerical tools able to simulate the effects of irradiation on mechanical and corrosion properties of materials. PERFECT aims at developing such predictive tools for reactor pressure vessels and internal structures.

Multi-scale modelling: from individual atoms to the componentbehaviour(Courtesy: EDF)
Multi-scale modelling: from individual atoms to the componentbehaviour (Courtesy: EDF)

“Virtual Reactors” to simulate irradiated material behaviours

The main objective of PERFECT is to build two ‘Virtual Reactors’ simulating the effect of irradiation respectively on reactor pressure vessels and on internal structures. Specific modules – dealing with mechanical and corrosion phenomena induced by irradiation – will complement each of these Virtual Reactors. The resulting four numerical tools will be integrated in a Software Integration Platform under Quality Assurance. The extended nuclear community (nuclear organisations, manufacturers, utilities, regulators, universities,……) will benefit. The need for experimental data will be reduced being complemented by numericals.

The consortium comprises 12 organisations involved in nuclear R & D: one manufacturer, one electric utility and eight nuclear research centres operating hot cell facilities (incl. three operating test reactors). The cutting-edge skills required by the project in physics, irradiation effects, numerical simulation and advanced techniques of material characterization are brought by 16 universities and research centres.

Developing numerical tools on a software integration platform for the nuclear stakeholders

The RTD activities required to build the four simulation tools – and integrate them in the platform – are structured in four Sub-Projects: (i) Integration Platform, (ii) Physics Modelling, (iii) Mechanics Modelling for pressure vessels nd (iv) Mechanics and Corrosion Modelling for internal structures. A fifth subproject aims at establishing a User Group where representatives of future users (manufacturers, utilities, regulators, research organisations…) receive the information and training required to get their own appraisal on limits and potentialities of the developed tools.

Together with this User Group, the consortium will perform the following tasks on education, knowledge sharing and exploitation of the findings:

  • ensure the diffusion of the numerical tools among the European nuclear industry;
  • use them to perform a first European collective exercise of component analysis in which material behaviour assessment will be done by numerical simulation;
  • apply the proposed simulation tools to complement previous or current international projects;
  • educate young researchers on the mechanisms of degradation of materials./

Assuring predictive capability

The main project’s deliverables will be:

  • the two Virtual Reactors and their additional modules - all integrated in the Software Integration Platform – with a detailed analysis of their potentialities, limits and uncertainties. Description and results of the experimental validation programs will be also available;
  • documents gathering the knowledge required to use and improve the tools developed in the project, as well as the demonstration of the consistency of their validity domain;
  • the results of the component analysis exercise aimed at reducing uncertainties and identifying margins. These results will outline the operational capability of the proposed tools.

European leadership in multi-scale modelling boosted

Perfect is the largest co-ordinated effort ever funded on multi-scale simulation. It is a unique occasion for the European Nuclear Industry to keep and extend its global advance and leadership in multi-scale modelling of irradiation effects. The tools developed in the project can help this industry to face its competitors on the global market of new reactors, services and maintenance operations.

Nuclear competitiveness and safety: In a timely and costeffective way, the simulation tools developed in PERFECT will reduce the need for dedicated irradiation campaigns and address most of the irradiated material-related issues: (i) help design experimental programs; (ii) explore conditions outside existing experimental databases; (iii) evaluate the individual or combined influence of material and service conditions that may exceed the capacity of any experimental program; (iv) help the understanding of the phenomena leading to degradations; (v) optimise the design and interpretation of irradiation surveillance programs; verify the consistency of existing databases; (vi) predict long-term projections for Nuclear Power Plant life management.

It is foreseen that these benefits could extend, in time, from fission reactors to fusion reactors.

Training: learning about irradiation damage requires a strong involvement of students. Indeed, it is almost impossible for them to carry out experiments aimed at assessing systematically the cross-influence of parameters. The simulation tools developed in PERFECT will allow students to perform virtual irradiations and analyse the resulting evolution of mechanical properties and microstructure.

Spin-offs in the European Industry: Outside the nuclear industry, the results will have spin-offs in all fields where simulation of materials is required (definition of new materials, optimisation of operating conditions…).

Project website:
http://fp6perfect.net/

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