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Adhesion Force Measurements: Graphite Cluster Interacting with VHTR Steel

Naphtali M. Mokgalapa, Tushar K. Ghosh, Robert V. Tompson, Sudarshan K. Loyalka

Nuclear Technology / Volume 203 / Number 3 / September 2018 / Pages 336-347

Technical Note /

Received:September 18, 2017
Accepted:March 9, 2018
Published:August 15, 2018

Graphite dust is generated in the reactor core during normal operation of very high temperature reactors (VHTRs). This dust is transported throughout the reactor circuit and plates-out at different locations. The resuspension of graphite dust is believed to be a major contributor to the nuclear source term. The adhesion force is an important parameter governing the resuspension of the dust. The present study employed an atomic force microscope to measure the adhesive force between a reactor-grade graphite cluster “particle” and VHTR structural materials including Inconel 617 and Hastelloy X in an air glove box. Results for a reactor-grade graphite (MLRF-1 from SGL Carbon Ltd.) cluster particle interacting with Inconel 617 and Hastelloy X samples are reported under four different surface conditions including as received, and after 5, 10, and 15 min of oxidation. These forces were also predicted using the Johnson-Kendall-Roberts theoretical model with the estimate of the work of adhesion. The measured values depend on oxidation times but are in general a factor of about 20 lower than the predicted values. With surface roughness taken into account, the predicted values differ from the measured values by factors of 2 and 4 at the maximum for Hastelloy X and Inconel 617, respectively.

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