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Modélisation multi-échelle de l'insertion du 3H et du 36Cl dans les graphites UNGG

Abstract : In the upcoming years, nine nuclear UNGG (Uranium Naturel Graphite Gaz) power plants will have to be dismantled in France. In these power plants, nuclear graphite was used as a neutron moderator and reflector, and was activated during operation. The dismantlement will lead to 23000 tons of irradiated graphite waste, which will have to be managed. The graphite is classified as a nuclear waste containing radionuclides with low activity and long half-life. Two radionuclides are the focus of this work: 36Cl and 3H. 36Cl has one of the longest half-lives (about 301000 years) among the waste's radionuclides. 3H has a shorter half-life (12 years), but contributes significantly to the waste’s initial activity. Previous experiments suggest that both, 36Cl and 3H, are mainly fixed at different traps in graphite, which are defective structures, such as dislocation loops, surfaces, or grain boundaries. Since the only significant migration mechanism of these radionuclides is release, it is important to understand where the traps are located and the conditions of the release.UNGG graphite has a complex heterogeneous multi-scale structure which differs substantially from an ideal monocrystal of graphite. However, in order to understand macroscopic data, theoretical studies at the nano- and microscopic scale are an important tool to explain underlying phenomena even though they rely on simpler models due to the limitations of computation power. A multi-scale approach was therefore applied to study the local interactions of the radionuclides with graphite as well as diffusion and trapping mechanisms on the nm-μm length scale.First, the interaction of 3H and 36Cl with defects in graphite was studied with density functional theory (DFT). Hydrogen interacts covalently with bulk graphite as well as with the studied surfaces (001), (100), and (110). Several surface reconstructions were investigated: arch-type reconstructions and in-plane reconstructions. The results show that the existing hypothesis on the trapping of hydrogen needs to be refined. The behavior of Cl is more complex. On the (100) and (110) surface chemisorption is observed. However, on the (001) surface a strong charge transfer interaction is observed for Cl. In contrast to that, Cl2 only interacts via weak van der Waals interactions with this surface. In bulk graphite Cl2 dissociates.The diffusion of H and Cl in irradiated graphite has been investigated by performing molecuar dynamics simulations. The ab initio results were used to develop bond order potentials to model the interaction of radionuclides and the graphite matrix, which attributes for short and long range interactions. For Cl, a new potential has been parameterized which is able to describe all aspects obtained with DFT. For the 3H-graphite interactions, the bond order potential AIREBO/M was used for C-H interactions. For C-C interactions the LCBOP potential was used.To evaluate the influence of the complex heterogeneous structure of the UNGG graphite on the radionuclide's behavior, several different atomic models were studied to account for this diversity such as surfaces, grain boundaries and nanopores.For Cl, irradiation simulations of different systems were performed up to an energy of 10 keV for the primary knock-on atom (PKA), and in a temperature range of 200 to 500ºC. The dependence on temperature and irradiation direction was investigated. In general, direct irradiation damage increases with temperature. Irradiation at incident angles <90º can create more or less damage compared to the perpendicular one depending on the surface type.Diffusion of H and Cl along surfaces shows that all crystallite edges with dangling bonds can serve as traps. For Cl, diffusion in nanoporous graphite revealed two preferred locations : First, the crystallite edges where Cl forms strong covalent; second, the corners of microcracks where Cl interacts via charge transfer.
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  • HAL Id : tel-01967613, version 2

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Christoph Lechner. Modélisation multi-échelle de l'insertion du 3H et du 36Cl dans les graphites UNGG. Science des matériaux [cond-mat.mtrl-sci]. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLX014⟩. ⟨tel-01967613v2⟩

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