Abstract

Concrete is an important structural material used in nuclear power plant (NPP) design. Due to relatively high amount of hydrogen as well as the presence of heavier elements, it also acts as a biological shielding. One of the important tasks for prolongation of operational life time is the determination of concrete components' condition after long-term irradiation. The paper aims to present the current activities in the CV Řež institute (Research Centre Řež—CVR) regarding the investigation of ionizing radiation effects on concrete properties. In its first part, the paper deals with experimental identification of the character of mixed neutron and gamma spectra in the concrete part of the VVER-1000 Mock-Up. Using the knowledge, the radiation field character can be scaled up to the commercial power plants with VVER-1000 light water reactor. It also provides justification for usage of the 60Co source for performed irradiation experiments with concrete. The second part of the article describes the experimental studies of the properties of gamma-irradiated concrete samples by strong 60Co source. This irradiation experiment can be understood as the first step in characterizing concrete degradation as gamma flux in biological shielding is significantly higher than that of neutron flux. In order to better understand the concrete properties and the behavior under irradiation, nondestructive as well as destructive testing methods were applied. We found that after 48 days of irradiation by the 60Co source the sample obtained dose from gamma corresponding to approximately 1% of the total during the NPP lifetime operation. Concrete microstructure degraded and the modulus of elasticity slightly decreased within 5%. Conversely, destruction tests prove significant flexural strength decrease by 27% in case of normal test and by 63% at the loss of coolant accident (LOCA) test.

References

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