Nuclear Technology / Volume 189 / Number 3 / March 2015 / Pages 241-257
Technical Paper / Reactor Safety / dx.doi.org/10.13182/NT14-25
Characterization of graphite particles (dust) produced by abrasion that would occur in a pebble bed reactor is of interest for reasons of safety, operation, and maintenance. To better understand this abrasion and particle generation, we have built a test apparatus to produce particles by sliding abrasion in a 1% to 5% relative humidity air environment. We have used a commercial-grade graphite in our experiments and have generated size distributions for the abraded particles. We have also fit lognormal functions to those size distributions (for use in computer codes); determined particle shapes; measured temperature and humidity during the tests; measured and calculated wear rates; and measured the surface roughness of both pretest and posttest samples, particle surface areas, pore volumes, and pore volume distributions of particles produced during abrasion of graphite surfaces under different loadings and sliding speeds. The experiments showed that as loading (analogous to pebble depth in the reactor) and sliding speed increase, so do the wear rates and numbers of particles produced, while surface roughness decreases, increases, and then decreases. Brunauer-Emmett-Teller measurements show that abrasion increases surface area from 0.583 m2/g in the bulk material to 555 m2/g in material abraded at high loading and high sliding speed. Wear rates range from 0.005 to 0.991 g/m per contact site. The size of the particles observed was <4000 nm. In all, our research shows that pebble abrasion is a complex process that is not constant during operation and thus should be considered for future work.