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Accueil > Groupes de recherche > Physique des solides > Equipe "Matière Condensée et Irradiation : du Fondamental au Fonctionnel" > Microstructural evolution and structural functionalization by ion beams > CoIrrHeSim


CoIrrHeSim project, n° ANR-11-BS09-006 (Oct. 2011 - June 2015) :
Co-influence of Irradiation and Helium gas on swelling of pressurized-water nuclear reactor materials components: experimental and numerical Simulations

Coordination: CSNSM, joined research unit of Université Paris-Sud and CNRS, Orsay, France


  • CSNSM, joined research unit (UMR8609) of Université Paris-Sud and CNRS/IN2P3, France
  • EDF R&D Les Renardières, Moret sur Loing, France
  • CEA/DEN/DMN/SRMP, Saclay, France
  • UMET, joined research unit (UMR8207) of CNRS, Université de Lille 1 and ENSCL, France

People of our team involved in this project:
Franck Fortuna, Aurélie Gentils, Stéphanie Jublot-Leclerc, Xiaoqiang Li (now working at Northwestern Polytechnical University, Material Science and Engineering Department, National Key Laboratory of Thermostructure Composite Materials, Xi’an Shaanxi, China).

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Simulations of the ageing of the steels constituting nuclear reactor vessel internals

Experimental and theoretical simulations of the swelling of austenitic steels induced by irradiation and helium injection
Extending further the life of existing pressurised water nuclear reactors is a major challenge. Indeed it would allow saving tens of millions of euros per year, however the safety of the system must be preserved. For this aim a very good knowledge and a good control of the mechanisms of ageing of the constitutive materials are required. Among all possible ageing mechanisms, a phenomenon of swelling may take place under irradiation, especially for the hottest and most irradiated parts of the internal vessel components. The bolts, made of CW 316 austenitic stainless steels, are particularly important to maintain the mechanical integrity of the lower core internal components of the vessel. They are subjected to intense neutron irradiation at an operation temperature between 300 and 380°C. The irradiation leads to both damage creation and helium gas production through nuclear reactions. Our motivation was to take into account the role of the helium gas on the potential swelling that may occur in the vessel internals materials of pressurised water nuclear reactors after a long irradiation time, and to describe at the nanoscale this synergistic phenomenon.

Coupling ion irradiation and in-situ transmission electron microscopy observations with cluster dynamics and Monte Carlo modelling
Our approach is to simulate the microstructural evolution of austenitic steels under the joint action of irradiation and helium gas production by using both experimental and numerical simulations. Ion beams have been used to reproduce experimentally both the damage created by neutrons (by using MeV heavy ions, i.e. 4 MeV Au ions) and the helium gas production (by implanting low energy 10 keV He ions), at a chosen temperature. The facility JANNuS-Orsay at CSNSM is an ideal tool: indeed it consists of a Transmission Electron Microscope linked to two ion accelerators, allowing in-situ observation and characterization of the ion-irradiated steel microstructure. The experimental data obtained on the material microstructure (316L industrial steel and FeNiCr model material) are used to parameterize and validate the numerical models. Modelling of the microstructure is performed using two complementary numerical methods, rate equation cluster dynamics (RECD) and Object Kinetic Monte-Carlo (OKMC). Parameterized and validated models are used to propose predictions of microstructural evolution and in particular swelling in PWR conditions.

Population of cavities and defects induced by single or dual ion beam have been characterized by transmission electron microscopy on both industrial and model materials at several temperatures. Obtained size and density distributions have been used to validate the simulations codes. The two models used in the codes have been compared successfully and some improvements have been performed. Simulations of the He ion experiments have been performed for the two temperatures using both models, and preliminary work has been done to model Au irradiations.

The CoIrrHeSim project is a basic research project coordinated by the CSNSM, joint research unit of Université Paris-Sud and CNRS. It also involves EDF R&D Les Renardières and CEA/DEN/DANS/DMN/SRMP, as well as UMET, joint research unit of Université de Lille 1, CNRS and Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Lille. The project started in October 2011 and lasted 45 months. It received an ANR funding of 465 000 € for a total cost of around 1 745 000 €.

Publications (non-exhaustive list):

  • S. Jublot-Leclerc, X. Li, L. Legras, M.-L. Lescoat, F. Fortuna, A. Gentils, Microstructure of Au-ion irradiated 316L and FeNiCr austenitic stainless steels, accepted in Journal of Nuclear Materials (2016)
  • S. Jublot-Leclerc, M.-L. Lescoat, F. Fortuna, L. Legras, X. Li and A. Gentils, TEM study of the nucleation of bubbles induced by He implantation in 316L industrial austenitic stainless steel, Journal of Nuclear Materials 466 (2015) 646-652
  • A. De Backer, G. Adjanor, C. Domain, S. Jublot-Leclerc, F. Fortuna, A. Gentils, C.J. Ortiz, A. Souidi, C. Becquart, Modelling of Helium Bubble Nucleation and Growth in Austenitic Stainless Steels Using an Object Kinetic Monte Carlo Method, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 352 (2015) 107-114

International Innovation : focus on CoIrrHeSim ANR project and JANNuS-Orsay facility

An article «Material matters» presenting the objectives and work programme of the ANR CoIrrHeSim project has just come out in the popular scientific European journal International Innovation (Issue 145, July 2014). This journal, published by Research Media, is the leading global dissemintation resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities.

PDF - 5.1 Mb
CoIrrHeSim project, CSNSM, Orsay
International Innovation, Issue 145, July 2014