Non-Destructively Detecting LWR Structural Material Embrittlement using Transient Grating Spectroscopy

Saleem A. Al Dajani, Benjamin R. Dacus, Cody A. Dennett, M. Grace Burke, Kudzanai Mukahiwa, Kuba Anglin, James J. Wall, Thak Sang Byun, Michael P. Short

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


Critical components for light water reactors (LWRs) evolve over decades in service, losing ductility and toughness due to thermal and irradiation aging. Destructive techniques to monitor their health may not always be applicable in the field, thus non-destructive evaluation (NDE) methods are sought which can quickly and precisely identify the state of major LWR components such as core barrels or primary coolant pipes. Here we demonstrate the use of gigahertz, non-contact ultrasonics to monitor and evaluate the health of cast austenitic stainless steels (CASS), used in some of the largest components in LWR primary systems. We do so by linking changes in their surface acoustic wave (SAW) characteristics using transient grating spectroscopy (TGS) to transmission electron microscopy (TEM) verified evidence of spinodal decomposition and G-phase precipitation. Thermal aging is shown to induce SAW peak splitting, correlated strongly with aging time-at-temperature and Charpy impact energy, and therefore increased hardness, decreased toughness, and lower ductility. This case motivates looking at gigahertz ultrasonics as NDE techniques to indirectly detect other LWR material degradation modes, such as reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement. This would allow for the greater use of NDE techniques to enable confident monitoring of LWR structural material health to 80 years and beyond.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication19th International Conference on Environmental Degradation of Materials in Nuclear Power Systems - Water Reactors, EnvDeg 2019
PublisherAmerican Nuclear Society555 North Kensington AvenueLa Grange ParkIL
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-30
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge generous financial support from the International Design Center (IDC) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). M.P.S. acknowledges funding from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s MIT Nuclear Education Faculty Development Program under Grant No. NRC-HQ-84-15-G-0045. S.A. acknowledges gracious support from the KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP) under Saudi Initiatives at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 1122374.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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