Nuclear materials

Prof. Marc Scibetta – Université de Liège
Prof. Eric van Walle – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Prof. Walter Bogaerts – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


90 hours study time

24 contact hours theory

10 contact hours exercises/laboratory sessions/visits

3 hours additional personal (readings etc.)

Learning Outcomes

  • To assess the basic aspects of material science as they apply to nuclear systems.
  • To review the basic processes of material degradation and ageing due to the nuclear environment (radiation effects, corrosion and fatigue).


Part 1: Material sciences: Properties of materials in relation with their processing, micro-structure and intended performance (M. Scibetta – 1 ECTS)

  • Atoms and their interactions
  • Crystal structure and imperfections
  • Phase diagram and kinetics effects
  • Material properties (excluding radiation effect and corrosion)

Part 2: Corrosion phenomena: (W. Bogaerts – 1 ECTS)

  • Description and occurrence
  • Electrochemical and chemical study of corrosion problems: basic equations, user diagrams and practical examples
  • Detailed study of frequently occurring corrosion types (for example pitting, IGA, SCC, ...): setting and context, explanation, influences of the environment and material properties
  • Methods of corrosion prevention and protection (design aspects, coatings, water treatment and inhibitors, electrochemical methods)
  • Effects of radiation on corrosion (for example irradiation assisted corrosion)
Part 3: Reactor pressure vessel life management (E. van Walle – 1 ECTS)
  • Radiation effects: introduction and general principles
  • Reactor Pressure Vessel Degradation Mechanisms: part 1 

Visit and laboratory session to the SCK•CEN research infrastructure
  • Laboratory session on mechanical testing: cold lab and hot-cells (M. Scibetta)

Course material and reference books

The PowerPoint presentations of the lectures are available on the BNEN website.

Other useful references:

  • Murty, K L., and Indrajit Charit. An introduction to nuclear materials : fundamentals and applications. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH, 2013
  • Konings, Rudy J., et al. Comprehensive nuclear materials. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2012.
  • Glasstone, S. & A. Sesonske, Nuclear Reactor Engineering, 4-th Ed, Vol 1, Chapman & Hall, New York, 1994  (Chapter 7: Reactor Materials, pp 406-462)
  • William D. Callister, Jr., David G. Rethwisch Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction, 9th Edition, Wiley, 2014
  • Furio Ercolessi. A Molecular Dynamics Primer 1997  
  • T. L. Anderson  Fracture Mechanics: Fundamentals and Applications, Fourth Edition, CRC, 2017

Pre-assumed knowledge or prerequisites

Courses in the following field
  • Nuclear energy: introduction
  • Introduction to nuclear physics and measurements

Basic chemistry, material behaviour.

Grading and examination

  • Part 1, 2 & 3: Oral examination with written preparation, open book 
  • The laboratory session on mechanical testing are compulsory and cannot be repeated in second session. 
  • Report on the laboratory session on mechanical testing (10%).
  • The grade will be determined by weighing the grades on the separate parts, in proportion to the number of ECTS per part. In case of a failure for one of the parts, the examination committee can decide to penalize by lowering the final grade.
  • The separate parts of the examination can be scheduled on multiple days.