A New Method to Measure Crack Extension in Nuclear Graphite Based on Digital Image Correlation

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Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations, ISSN: 1687-6075, Vol: 2017, Page: 1-10

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Lai, Shigang; Shi, Li; Fok, Alex; Li, Haiyan; Sun, Libin; Zhang, Zhengming
Hindawi Limited; Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations
article description
Graphite components, used as moderators, reflectors, and core-support structures in a High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor, play an important role in the safety of the reactor. Specifically, they provide channels for the fuel elements, control rods, and coolant flow. Fracture is the main failure mode for graphite, and breaching of the above channels by crack extension will seriously threaten the safety of a reactor. In this paper, a new method based on digital image correlation (DIC) is introduced for measuring crack extension in brittle materials. Cross-correlation of the displacements measured by DIC with a step function was employed to identify the advancing crack tip in a graphite beam specimen under three-point bending. The load-crack extension curve, which is required for analyzing the R-curve and tension softening behaviors, was obtained for this material. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis of the threshold value employed for the cross-correlation parameter in the crack identification process was conducted. Finally, the results were verified using the finite element method.