Investigating Simultaneous Corrosion/Irradiation of Materials for Lead and Lead-Bismuth Eutectic Reactors at the Atomic Scale

Liquid lead (Pb) and lead-bismuth eutectic (LBE) cooled fast reactors promise the best power density and economics among fission reactors. However, development of these reactors has been stuck because of concerns about the combined effect of Pb/LBE corrosion and irradiation on the structural materials they would use.  To investigate this issue project partners at MIT, USA, have developed a unique facility that allows the simultaneous exposure of materials to Pb/LBE corrosion and in situ irradiation with protons. Using this new tool, we will explore the performance of five of the current front-runner alloys for cladding and structural components in Pb/LBE fast reactors. Utilising Atom Probe Tomography we will analyse the samples at the atomic scale to determine how Pb/LBE corrosion proceeds in the presence of irradiation, and how this differs from Pb/LBE corrosion without irradiation.

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