High Pressure Burst Testing of SiCf-SiCm Composite Nuclear Fuel Cladding

  • Luis H. Alva
  • Xinyu Huang
  • George M. Jacobsen
  • Christina A. Back
Conference paper
Part of the Conference Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Mechanics Series book series (CPSEMS)


Silicon carbide fiber reinforced silicon carbide matrix (SiCf-SiCm) composite tube is being developed as an accident tolerant fuel cladding material for light water reactors. The mechanical robustness of the material is of critical importance to ensure that the nuclear fuel and fission products are contained during both normal operation and accident conditions, such as the loss of coolant accident (LOCA) encountered in Fukushima Daiichi Plant. We report the development and application of a high pressure burst testing method to evaluate the mechanical robustness of SiCf-SiCm composite cladding. The internal high pressure is generated using a rubber tubing placed within the SiCf-SiCm sample tube. A unique test rig was designed to seal the ends of the rubber tubing while pressurizing it up to 2,000 bar by hydraulic oil. The expanding rubber tubing confined by the SiCf-SiCm sample tube thus exerts a controlled uniform internal pressure to the SiCf-SiCm sample. The full-field strain distribution of the outside surface of the sample was captured by 3D digital image correlation (DIC) method. The acoustic emission (AE) technique was used to detect damage events during the high pressure burst testing.


Nuclear fuel cladding Digital image correlation Internal high pressure testing Strain measurement 



Loss of coolant accident


Digital image correlation


Silicon carbide fiber–silicon carbide matrix


Carbon vapor infiltration


Outside diameter


Inside diameter


Mega Pascals, 10+6 Pascals


Atta Joules, energy unit, 10−18 J


Pounds per square inch


Proportional limit stress





This work is performed at the University of South Carolina, Mechanical Engineering Department in collaboration with General Atomics. Funding was provided by the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy under the Accident Tolerant Fuel Program. We want to thank Dr. Michael Sutton, Dr. Li Ning, Mr. Patrick McNeill and Correlated Solutions Inc. for technical assistance in the DIC measurements.


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Copyright information

© The Society for Experimental Mechanics, Inc. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis H. Alva
    • 1
  • Xinyu Huang
    • 1
  • George M. Jacobsen
    • 2
  • Christina A. Back
    • 2
  1. 1.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.General AtomicsSan DiegoUSA

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