Tracking of Nuclear Cable Insulation Polymer Structural Changes Using the Gel Fraction and Uptake Factor Method
Cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) cable insulation samples were exposed to heat and gamma radiation at a series of temperatures, dose rates, and exposure times to evaluate the effects of these variables on material degradation. The samples were tested using the solvent incubation method to collect gel fraction and uptake factor data in order to assess the crosslinking and chain scission occurring in polymer samples with aging. Consistent with previous reports, gel fraction values were observed to increase and uptake factor values to decrease with radiation and thermal exposure. The trends seen were also more prominent as exposure time increased, suggesting this to be a viable method of tracking structural changes in the XLPE-insulated cable material over extended periods. For the conditions explored, the cable insulation material evaluated did not indicate signs of anomalous aging such as inverse temperature effect in which radiation-induced aging is more severe at lower temperature. Ongoing aging under identical radiation conditions and at lower temperature will further inform conclusions regarding the importance of inverse temperature effects for this material under these conditions.
KeywordsCable-aging XLPE Gel fraction Uptake factor Crosslinking Inverse temperature effect
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