Graphite and graphite composite materials are of great importance in various applications; however, they have been widely used in nuclear applications. Primarily in nuclear applications such, as a moderator where its primary aim is to stop the fast neutrons to thermal neutron.
The composite graphite (HTR-10) has potential applications as a moderator and other applications including in aerospace field. Structurally the composite shows stable hexagonal form of graphite and no traces of the unstable Rhombohedral patterns. Thermal conductivity indicates the same trends observed and known for nuclear graded graphite.
The composite was made as a mixture of 64 wt% of natural graphite, 16 wt% of synthetic graphite binded together by 20 wt% of phenolic resin. The resinated graphite powder was uni-axially pressed by 19.5 MPa to form a disc shaped specimen. The disc was then cut and annealed to 1800 °C. The composite was further cut into two directions (parallel and perpendicular) to the pressing direction. For characterization the samples were cut into 2.5 x 2.5 x 10 mm3. There were exposed to proton irradiation for 3 and 4.5 hrs respectively and characterized both structurally and thermally.
Through the study what we have observed was that as the composite is exposed to proton irradiation there is an improvement structurally. Thus, the D peak in the Raman spectroscopy has decreased substantially with the irradiated samples. XRD has indicated that there is no un-stable Rhombohedral phase pattern in both the pristine and the irradiated samples.
However this was further confirmed with that thermal conductivity is also increasing with irradiation exposure. This is anomalous to irradiated graphite in which defects are supposedly induced. Looking into the electrical resistivity we have noted that pristine samples have higher resistivity as compared to the irradiated samples. Seebeck coefficient indicates that there is some form of structural perfection and the samples have a phonon drag dip at the known graphite temperature of 35 K. This has shown us there are no impurities induced by irradiation of the samples.