Boron Carbide (B4C) particle-reinforced aluminum matrix composite is the key material for use as neutron absorber plate in spent fuel storage racks as well as new fuel and in-containment fuel storage racks for GENIII advanced passive nuclear power plants in China. This material has once depended upon importing with high expense and restricted delivery schedule by foreign supplier. Therefore it has meaningful practical significance to realize the localized manufacturing for this material in China. More importantly, since it’s the first time for this material to be used in domestic plant, particular care should be taken to assure the formal supplied neutron absorber material products exhibit high stabilized and reliable service in domestic nuclear engineering. This paper initiates and proposes a principle design framework from technical view in qualification requirements for this neutron absorber material so as to guide the practical engineering application.
Aiming at neutron absorber materials supplied under practical manufacturing condition in engineering delivery, the qualification requirements define B4C content, matrix chemistry, 10B isotope, bulk density, 10B areal density, mechanical property and microstructure as key criteria for material performance. The uniformity assessment as to different locations of this material is also required from at least three lots of material. Only qualified material meeting all of the qualification requirements should proceed to be verified by lifetime testing such as irradiation, corrosion and thermal aging testing.
Systematic and comprehensive performance assessments and verification for process stabilization could be achieved through the above qualification. The long-term service for this neutron absorber material in reliable and safe way could be convincingly expected in spent fuel storage application in China.