CNL’s Metallographic Services Laboratory (MSL), located at its Chalk River Laboratories (CRL), samples reactor components for microstructure examination. Samples are prepared, and the microstructure of the material is examined, using both optical microscopes as well as electron microscopes. In either case, digital electronic cameras capture images of the sample’s microstructure. Images are usually taken for qualitative purposes however quantitative analysis can be made from images both manually and by using computer automation. This is augmented by the interpretation of the experienced metallurgists that staff the laboratory.
Knowing the microstructure of a material helps to interpret mechanical properties through which the examination of microstructure assist engineers and scientist understand the internal arrangement of engineering materials, which is the primary reason for having the MSL at CRL. The study of structures can explain why a component behaves in a certain way. It can also provide insight into how component improvements can be made, as well as determine why components fail.
The Metallographic Services Laboratory has capabilities, including:
- Saws for cutting various materials
- Metallographic polishing apparatus used for sample preparation
- Microscopes for the examination of structure
- Work in conjunction with corrosion and mechanical test labs and electron microscopes of the Surface Science Laboratories
While metallographic services laboratories can be found throughout the world in many industries dealing with metals, CNL’s MSL has expertise in the examination of zirconium alloys, which is rare. This laboratory at CNL can photograph and interpret the microstructure of a wide range of engineering materials. The MSL has conducted failure investigations of failed components for many internal customers, as well as for international industrial and academic partners.
CNL’s Metallographic Services Laboratory would welcome new partners wishing to work on metallurgical analysis including material characterisation and development as well a component failure investigation.