Radionuclides in Irradiated Graphite of Industrial Uranium–Graphite Reactors: Effect of Irradiation and Thermochemical Treatment on the Graphite Structure
The structure of irradiated graphite from decommissioned industrial uranium–graphite reactors was studied. The extent of disturbance of the graphite structure is closely correlated with temperature and integral neutral fluence. The perfection of the structure of graphite samples (data of X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy) does not correlate with their radioactivity, which is due to low absolute concentration of the radionuclides. Mapping of the samples using Raman spectroscopy reveals spatial heterogeneity of the distribution of graphite lattice damages, which casts doubt on the representativeness of the spectra of individual points. The spatial distribution of domains differing in the crystal lattice perfection was studied for the first time and was compared with the radionuclide distribution. Satisfactory correlation between the radiographic and spectroscopic mapping data is observed for some samples. Irradiated graphite is strongly textured and contains amorphous microvolumes, which are probably radionuclide carriers. Thermochemical treatment (oxidation in O2, thermal shock) leads to degradation of the irradiated graphite structure on the submicron level, accompanied by a drastic decrease in the mechanical strength of the samples.
Keywordsuranium–graphite reactors irradiated graphite thermochemical treatment
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