A new electroanalytical non-destructive testing technique has shown promise for diagnosing potential problems in nuclear reactors in a simulated environment. The scanning contact potentiometry method was developed by the ElphysLAB at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Moscow and was successfully tested on the IBR-2 pulse reactor at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, a small city near Moscow, MEPhI told RIA Novosti.
MEPhI notes that one of the leading advantages of the scanning contact potentiometry method is the small size (about 1-2mm) of the sensors in the measuring system. The sensors can be placed almost anywhere, including places that are difficult to access, such as butt-welded joints. It is also possible to receive information about cracks as they are beginning to form, as well as other weaknesses in reactor construction materials.
“Using the scanning contact potentiometry method, we can find fatigue cracks forming in the reactor’s steel and also predict where they are going to appear," noted Abu Gazal Ayman Ahed, a postgraduate student at the MEPhI Design of Device and Installations Department, who tested the method in Dubna. "For example, during the test, we found a 100-micrometre-long fatigue crack forming at a depth of 2mm three hours before the test sample was destroyed.”
Associate Professor Vitaly Surin, head of ElphysLAB, said nuclear energy companies are already interested in the new technology, which has been successfully tested at the Rostov nuclear plant. The institute is now preparing to apply for an international patent, MEPhI's press service noted.