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Response of structural alloys in nuclear reactors to high neutron exposure

Event Date: January 29, 2014
Speaker: Frank Garner
Radiation Effects Consulting, USA
Type: Graudate
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: ARMS B071


The structural alloys used in various types of nuclear reactors are exposed not only to high temperatures and corrosive environments, but also to the effects of irradiation to displace atoms from their lattice site and to cause transmutation of elements. The combined effect of these factors can induce large changes in physical properties, alloy microstructure, mechanical performance and especially dimensional stability.

A review is presented of nuclear environments and the many ways the alloys used to build the reactor can experience degradation that affects their performance, continued functionality and life-time.


For four decades Frank Garner has played a prominent role in the international radiation damage and nuclear reactor communities as a technical contributor and a scientific leader. His studies on the response to neutron radiation of structural alloys have led to significant revisions of the nuclear community’s perception of materials issues involving void swelling, irradiation creep, embrittlement, transmutation and radiation-enhanced corrosion. He is adept at transferring scientific findings into engineering consequences and solutions for operating reactors.

Dr. Garner’s studies first focused on liquid metal fast breeder reactors, broadened into the fusion reactor field, and then turned to materials issues of light-water and heavy water reactors, as well as accelerator-driven spallation neutron sources. He has had a strong impact on the worldwide development and application of alloys for fast breeder and fusion reactors. His proposal in 1994 that pressurized water reactors would experience strong and unanticipated effects from void swelling and Irradiation creep has proven to be correct, based first on his subsequent studies conducted In Russia and Kazakhstan and confirmed in later studies In Western reactors, with the issue now being considered as an important criterion for plant life extension of PWRs.
Dr. Garner’s work ranges from fundamental to applied, and from experimental to theoretical. He contributes to the body of knowledge as a single author and team participant or leader. He has been involved in many formal and informal international collaborative efforts and has conducted experiments in the USA, Japan, Europe and a number of former Soviet States. He was Program Coordinator for the U.S./Japan Fusion Materials Collaboration Using Fission Reactors and has served on numerous advisory committees and panels, such as the Materials Science Program Advisory Committee for the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility, Materials Working Group for the Accelerator Production of Tritium Project, various working groups of the EPRI reactor Internals programs (CIR, JOBB RPV Internals), Domestic Irradiation Facilities Evaluation Panel, GNEP Facilities Review, Cooperative Research Project for the IAEA, etc. He has been the US Principal Investigator on numerous projects in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan funded by ISTC, STCU, CRDF, and NATO. He frequently serves on International Committees for Symposia held in former Soviet countries, Asia and Europe.
Education—B.Sc. Chemical Engineering (1963) and D.Sc. in Nuclear Engineering with Materials Science emphasis (1970) both at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
History—After two years military service (Captain) at Picatinny Arsenal working on nuclear subjects, he joined Advanced Reactors Division, Westinghouse Electric Company in 1970. He transferred to Westinghouse Hanford Company in 1973, and again transferred to Battelle’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 1987 as a result of the DOE-directed Hanford consolidation. He reached PNNL's top rank Scientist VI in 1994, serving until January 2009. Currently he serves as a Chief Consulting Scientist for both TechSource Inc. and Columbia Basin Consulting Group, and serves as President of Radiation Effects Consulting LLC, assisting a wide range of governmental and industrial clients, both domestic and international. Currently Dr. Garner serves as Adjunct Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Boise State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, Alfred University, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology, actively assisting in student and postdoctoral research projects. He has served as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Journal of Nuclear Materials for more than two decades.
Publications—Currently more than 450 open literature publications in addition to many internal reports, chairman and lead editor of three major conference proceedings; and assistant editor on three others. Author of three highly cited reviews on various aspects of radiation damage.