Structural integrity of safety critical components operating in nuclear power systems

1 October 2014, 4.00 PM - 1 October 2014, 4.00 PM

Distinguished lecture series. Speaker: David Smith, Solid Mechanics Research Group/RAE Professor. Venue: Pugsley Lecture Theatre, Queens Building.

Our nuclear power plant systems contain components that operate in extreme environments and are safety critical, ie their failure would lead to complete shut-down of the power plant. It is therefore essential to gain detailed scientific understanding of the conditions that lead to failure. We can then determine how to avoid failure.

In the future these components will be operated beyond and outside their initial design conditions. However, our knowledge of the behaviour of materials and components operating in excess of 40 years and in extreme environments is either limited or largely unknown.

The purpose of this talk is to provide an overview of applied mechanics research being used to support continued and extended operation of nuclear components.

Two practical examples are illustrated:

  • welded steels in nuclear boilers operating at high temperature (above 500°C); and
  • graphite acting as a moderator in the nuclear core.

In both examples there are three key questions:

  • what are the stresses;
  • how does the material respond to the stresses; and
  • is the operating environment a contributing factor to the creation of stresses and material response

In this talk Professor Smith will focus on these key factors and illustrate examples of current research that aims to enhance our understanding. He will also explain several important developments created in the Solid Mechanics group that have contributed to answering the key questions.

Finally, there will be a summary of the advantages of close co-operation with industrial partners and working with international research teams.

This lecture will be in the Pugsley Lecture Theatre at 4pm followed by pizza and beer in the PLT Foyer.

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