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Nuclear Seminar Series: Gen IV Nuclear Fission Systems
March 20, 2019 -5:30 pm - 7:00 pmFree
- Date: Wednesday 20th March
- Time: Refreshments at 5.30pm for a 6pm start
- Location: Pugsley Lecture Theatre, Queen's Building, University of Bristol
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Concept image of a Transatomic molten salt reactor. Credit: Transatomic
In the general context of increasing world energy demands and climate change, there is increasing pressure to develop sustainable energy technologies. Nuclear energy can contribute to this, but although light water reactor (LWR) nuclear fission is broadly considered a low-carbon energy technology, there is a need to develop breakthrough technologies now in order to prepare for the longer-term future of nuclear power.
In particular, fast neutron reactors with closed fuel cycles, of which there are several design concepts, offer the potential to reduce the levels of high level waste and also contribute to the more efficient use of uranium resources, which may be put under pressure by an expansion of the LWR fleet. Certain fast reactor concepts also have process heat applications, which may support economical hydrogen or synthetic hydrocarbon fuel production and there are also innovative systems such as the thorium fuelled molten salt and accelerator driven reactors (for transmutation of waste).
This broad class of next generation nuclear fission plant concepts are generally referred to as “Generation IV” systems or concepts. The foreseen operating conditions of the Generation IV concepts will place significant demands on their structural materials. These demands are far more stringent than those for existing nuclear plant, and there will be a requirement for design lives in excess of 60 years. The talk will focus on some of the key challenges in the forerunner designs.
Professor Marrow's research is focussed on the degradation of structural materials and the role of microstructure. A key aspect is the investigation of fundamental mechanisms of damage accumulation using novel materials characterisation techniques. This has concentrated recently on computed X-ray tomography and strain mapping by digital image correlation, which is applied to studies of the degradation of Generation IV nuclear materials such as graphite and silicon carbide composites.