The Environmental Degradation of Nuclear Materials Laboratory is part of the Engineering Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The laboratory was launched recently in December 2015 under the management of Assistant Professor Dr. Adrien Couet.
Welcome to the homepage of the Environmental Degradation of Nuclear Materials research group at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The research group, under the direction of Assistant Professor Dr. Adrien Couet started in December 2015 and focuses on the in-situ characterization of nuclear materials degradation due to the coupling of corrosion, irradiation and mechanical stresses.
The various materials currently used in primary water nuclear reactors such as the uranium dioxyde fuel pellets, the zirconium alloy fuel cladding, the stainless steel internals and nickel based alloy steam generator tubes are all subjected to harsh environmental conditions(temperature, pressure, irradiation, etc.). These materials are indeed exposed to multiple degradation processes: corrosion, irradiation and mechanical stresses, which are most of the time coupled. The coupling results in the emergence of accelerated degradation phenomena significantly limiting the nuclear materials lifetime. These environments are planned to be even more severe and aggressive in future advanced nuclear reactors designs.
Thus, it is critical for the nuclear industry to understand these coupling mechanisms in order to better predict the lifetime expectancy and the replacement frequency of nuclear materials in current and future nuclear reactors. However, these degradation processes are often complex and involve multiple length and time scales, which make them particularly difficult to model and study experimentally. It is thus essential to develop efficient modeling tools and innovative experiments allowing to validate and verify the environmental degradation models.
It is in this context that a new research laboratory has opened in the Engineering Physics department at UW-Madison focusing on the development of new in-situ methodologies to study the environmental degradation coupling mechanisms. For instance in situ measurements such as Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy, micro Raman Spectroscopy and Photo-Electrochemistry are being developed to study the high temperature corrosion mechanisms. At the same time, high temperature corrosion models such as the Coupled Current Charge Compensation (C4) model, are being developed to better take into account the effects of alloying elements and irradiation on corrosion. To finish with, additional state of the art microscopy techniques are used on selected samples to validate the models.