Photoacoustic studies on nuclear materials

P. Perumal1, K. Perumal1, C. Sanjeeviraja2 and K. Ramachandran3

1Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, India

Keywords: nuclear materials, photoacoustics, instrumentation, thermal properties
property: thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity
material: nuclear materials, alloy D9, zircaloy-2

Photoacoustic Spectroscopic (PAS) studies provide unique opportunity to determine the thermal properties of the materials under investigation. It was thought earlier that only optically transparent materials could be studied by PAS. But the present day advancement in science and technology provide opportunities to use PAS on opaque materials including metals and alloys. In nuclear industry, it is highly important to know the thermal properties of the materials used as fuel pins, hexagonal wrappers, heat exchangers, pipe lines etc. Nuclear material such as Zircaloy-2 is used as calendria tubes in presurrised heavy water reactors and titanium modified austenitic stainless steel type 316 often called alloy D9 is used as fuel pins and hexagonal wrapper tubes in sodium cooled fast breeder reactors. Appropriate heat treatment and microstructural conditions have to be ensured before fabricating them as nuclear components and in case of alloy D9, it requires 20% prior cold working after solution annealing treatment. Thermal properties under such stringent conditions are rare to be found in the literatures. However, knowledge of the thermal properties of these nuclear materials is very important at every stage of heat treatment and fabrication. In such situations, PAS studies come in handy for the quick and quantitative determination of their thermal properties such as thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, etc.

In the present study, we have developed a stand alone, user friendly and cost effective PAS instrumentation (Photoacoustic Spectrometer) to measure the photoacoustic response of the materials under different conditions. The photoacoustic spectrometer was automated using the Agilent’s virtual engineering environment (Agilent VEE Pro) software. Nuclear materials such as alloy D9 (15Ni-5% Cr)-2.2Mo-Ti) under 20% cold rolled and thermally aged conditions and ß-quenched Zircaloy-2 with different aged conditions were studied using the developed PAS instrumentation set-up. Quantitative measurements of thermal properties of the above nuclear materials were obtained through PAS measurements and the results were compared with available literature values. And wherever literature data are not available for the above materials, correlations have been tried with ultrasonic velocity measurements made earlier on the above nuclear materials with similar mechanical and thermally aged conditions.

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  2. M. Vasudevan, P. Palanichamy, Journal of Nuclear Materials, 312(2-3), 181(2003)

  3. P. Palanichamy, M. Vasudevan, T. Jayakumar, S. Venugopal, B. Raj, NDT & E International, 33(4), 253 (2000)

  4. T. Jayakumar, P. Palanichamy, Baldev Raj, Journal of Nuclear Materials, 255(2-3), 243(1998)

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