On the damage and fracture of nuclear graphite at multiple length-scales

Dong Liu*, Ken Mingard, Oliver T. Lord, Peter Flewitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
477 Downloads (Pure)


Gilsocarbon graphite, as a neutron moderator and load-bearing component in the core of the UK fleet of Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors, possesses complex microstructural features including defects/pores over a range of length-scales from nanometres to millimetres in size. As a consequence, this material exhibits different characteristics when specimens of different length-scale are deformed. In this work, the deformation and fracture of this material have been characterised using in situ methods for specimens of micrometre size (meso-scale) and the results are then compared with those measured one length-scale smaller, and those at the macro-scale. At the micro-scale, sampling a volume of material (2 × 2 × 10 μm) excludes micro- and macro-size pores, the strength was measured to be as high as 1000 MPa (an elastic modulus of about 67 GPa). When the specimen size is increased by one order of magnitude to the meso-scale, the strength is reduced to about 100 MPa (an elastic modulus of about 20 GPa) due to the inclusion of micro-size pores. For larger engineering-size specimens that include millimetre-size pores, the strength of the material averages about 20 MPa (an elastic modulus of about 11 GPa). This trend in the data is discussed and considered in the context of selecting the appropriate data for relevant multi-scale modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-254
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Early online date17 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Elastic modulus
  • Graphite
  • Micro-mechanical testing
  • Multiple length-scales
  • Nano-indentation


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