The United States Department of Energy’s Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Program will irradiate up to six nuclear graphite creep experiments in the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) located at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The graphite experiments are being irradiated over an approximate eight year period to support development of a graphite irradiation performance data base on the new nuclear grade graphites now available for use in high temperature gas reactors. The goals of the irradiation experiments are to obtain irradiation performance data, including irradiation creep, at different temperatures and loading conditions to support design of the NGNP Very High Temperature Gas Reactor (VHTR), as well as other future gas reactors. The experiments each consist of a single capsule that contain six stacks of graphite specimens, with half of the graphite specimens in each stack under a compressive load, while the other half of the specimens are not be subjected to a compressive load during irradiation. The six stacks have differing compressive loads applied to the top half of diametrically opposite pairs of specimen stacks. A seventh specimen stack in the center of the capsule does not have a compressive load. The specimens are being irradiated in an inert sweep gas atmosphere with on-line temperature and compressive load monitoring and control. There are also samples taken of the sweep gas effluent to measure any oxidation or off-gassing of the specimens that may occur during initial start-up of the experiment.

The first experiment, AGC-1, started its irradiation in September 2009, and the irradiation was completed in January 2011. The second experiment, AGC-2, started its irradiation in April 2011 and completed its irradiation in May 2012 [1]. The third experiment, AGC-3, is scheduled to start its irradiation in late November 2012 and complete in the late summer to fall of 2014. This paper will briefly discuss the design of the AGC-3 experiment and control systems, and present the irradiation results to date.

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