The strong correlation between the density and the physical and, mechanical properties of graphite suggests that the method of nondestructive density evaluation could be developed into a characterization technique of great value for the overall improvement of safety of graphite moderator reactors. In this study, the oxidation-induced density changes in nuclear graphite for VHTR were determined by a conventional destructive bulk density measurement method (BM), and by a new non-destructive method based on acoustic microscopy and image processing (AM). The results were compared in order to validate the applicability of the latter method. For a direct comparison of the results from both measurements, two specimens were prepared from a cylindrical graphite sample (1 inch diameter and 1 inch height, oxidized to 10% weight loss at 973 K in air for 5 hours). The specimens were used for characterization by BM and AM methods, respectively. The results show that, even with a large standard deviation of the AM, the density changing trend from both methods appeared the same. This observation may be attributed to the fact that AM images reflect characteristic density changes of the graphite sample through the acoustic impedance changes. This study demonstrates the possibility of using AM as a nondestructive technique for the evaluation of density changes in graphite when a database is prepared through a systematic series of experiments.

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