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Engineering LibreTexts

4: Materials for Nuclear Power Generation

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  • Learning Objectives

    On completion of this TLP you should:

    • understand the basic physics behind nuclear fission;
    • describe the common features of nuclear reactors;
    • understand the various neutron cross-sections;
    • explain the mechanisms of radiation damage, and its consequences, particularly for structural steels;
    • understand the material problems associated with extreme conditions, in particular large radiation fluxes;
    • explain the materials selection for the components at the heart of a nuclear reactor:
      • moderators;
      • control rods;
      • cladding.

    Before you start

    Readers should be familiar with the concept of a crystal lattice, dislocations, and diffusion. A familiarity with the basics of mechanical behaviour and corrosion of materials would also be useful.
    Readers should be familiar with standard nuclear terminology: the definitions of isotope and nuclide, the composition of nuclei, the definitions of atomic number and mass number.

    A note on units: throughout this TLP the unit used for energy is the electron volt , the energy associated with one electronic charge (1.619 × 10−19 C) subjected to a potential difference of 1 V, i.e. 1 eV ≈ 1.619 × 10−19 J