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Reactor Technology

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The most modern and, at the same time, the most extreme example in reactor technology are the so-called fusion reactors. In these, hydrogen nuclei are to be fused and the energy released in this process could be the answer for the current energy debate. However, temperatures of 100,000,000°C are required within these reactors in order to trigger nuclear fusion. There is no material on earth which could withstand such heat for even a fraction of a second. For this reason, the plasma is suspended with the help of magnetic fields. Therefore, only few materials can even be considered for the first wall lining of these reactors.

However, the high requirements do not only concern temperature resistance alone. The plasma also proves to be extremely sensitive as regards contaminations so that the group of materials which may be used is also extremely small for this reason. Today, specially modified CFC material, which offers a favourable mixture of high temperature resistance, heat conductivity, mechanic load carrying ability and purity is primarily used in these applications.

Comprehensive experience in the use of carbon materials has been gathered in the field of nuclear reactors for many years. In these applications, water can be used instead of graphite as the moderator material which slows down the fast neutrons to thermal energy levels by hitting against its atomic nuclei. Large parts of the reactor consist of graphite components or are lined with graphite tiles. In this case, it is not only the type and concentration of contaminations which plays an important role but a good isotropy is also required. In pebble bed reactors both the moderator balls and the fuel balls are made from graphite. Moreover, soft or hard felt plates made of carbon fibres are also used in addition.

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