The US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) announced it is extending its collaborative research agreement with Japan’s Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) for five more years, until August 2019.

The joint research effort will focus on materials science, including the performance of materials in nuclear power plant environments and the development of materials better suited for nuclear plant components, EPRI said.

"The collaboration between our organisations over the past three years has significantly advanced understanding in materials integrity, component performance, and radiation safety," commented Neil Wilmshurst, EPRI vice president and chief nuclear officer.

Collaborative research has already led to the development and testing of a new technique for obtaining smaller samples for materials testing, according to EPRI. The technique was developed by CRIEPI and then EPRI conducted round robin testing on the samples to ensure the methodology provided sufficient quality and repeatability. Moving forward, research will incorporate test data using irradiated samples to develop improved models for assessing the structural integrity of materials over time.

Over the next five years other research projects will include: the use of 3D tools at the atomic level to improve understanding of the effects of neutron damage on reactor materials; development of new materials that are more resistant to radiation damage; and evaluation of reactor vessel material susceptibility to cracking.