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Dr M A Stopher and Dr I Farnan

The aim of the first part of the course (lectures 1-8) is to teach the principles behind the choice of materials for critical parts of current and future generations of nuclear reactors from a materials science perspective. Central to this will be the consideration of the effects of radiation on the microstructure of these materials, e.g., the formation of dislocation loops, voids and bubbles and the stability of phases to irradiation from energetic particles such as neutrons. The effects of radiation on materials can be dramatic: a noticeable change in shape, swelling by some tens of per cent, hardening (more than five-fold), drastic embrittlement, a reduction in ductility, and stress corrosion cracking.

The second part of the course (lectures 9-12) introduces the origins of radioactive (or nuclear) waste in the fission product spectrum and actinides produced in a power reactor. Methods of stabilising these diverse isotopes with different chemistries and half-lives are described. Specifically these are the direct disposal of spent nuclear fuel, nuclear fuel re-processing and vitrification of the resulting fission products and the materials chemistry of tailored ceramics. The durability of these waste forms is examined with respect to the internal attack due to on going radioactive decay and the external attack from repository groundwaters and how these fit together in the consideration of long-term performance of a geological disposal facility.

This lecture course will cover:

  • Types of radiation and radioactive decay
  • Fission and fusion reactors
  • Radiation damage processes
  • Chemical, mechanical and physical effects of irradiation on materials
  • Materials for nuclear fuels
  • Materials for cladding nuclear fuels
  • Moderators in nuclear environments
  • Radioactive waste: its origins and plans for its ultimate disposal
  • Radioactive waste forms: spent fuel, re-processing, vitrifcation & ceramics
  • Durability of radioactive waste forms: radiation damage over geological timescales
  • Durability of radioactive waste forms: aqueous durability & geological disposal facilities.