Materials science

Nuclear materials science investigates how corrosion, irradiation, thermal ageing, and mechanical load may affect materials properties and potentially degrade their performance.

Predicting the behaviour of the nuclear materials under normal and abnormal conditions is key to operating power plants within safety margins. One of the pillars this effort relies on is the development of predictive computational tools to simulate the evolution of the properties of broad classes of materials within the operating conditions of nuclear power plants.

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NEA work on this topic

The NEA Division of Nuclear Science is engaged in the nuclear materials area through the Working Party on Multi-scale Modelling of Fuels and Structural Material for Nuclear Systems (WPMM). The focus of WPMM is on the development of approaches and tools allowing the connection of the macroscopic behaviour of components with their atomic structures. Considering the variety of materials - spanning from structural materials to fuel materials -covered by the working party and the need to develop appropriate theoretical frameworks to describe their behaviour, WPMM created three separate expert groups:

The aim of the WPMM and its expert groups is to provide NEA member countries with the frameworks for collaboration to conduct joint evaluations and prepare reports on a variety of materials related topics. The efforts carried out within the WPMM will ultimately support decision makers in the development of sound R&D strategies to ensure that current materials and innovative ones will guarantee the safe operation of present and future nuclear power plants.