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Macroscale and mesoscale analysis of concrete as a multiphase material for biological shields against nuclear radiation



The overall thermo-hygro-mechanical behavior of concrete is to be investigated, because its bearing capacity is required together with its shielding properties, specifically when concrete structures are exposed to high-energy neutron fluxes, which represent the next generation facilities designed for the production of high energy radioactive ion beams in physics research. Irradiation in the form of either fast and thermal neutrons, primary gamma rays or gamma rays produced as a result of neutron capture, are learnt to affect concrete as well as neutron fluences of the order of 1019 n/cm2 and gamma radiation doses of 1010 rad seem to become critical for concrete strength. The collection of data on concrete samples, variously exposed to neutron radiation, has allowed for defining a law for radiation damage within the FEM research code NEWCON3D, assessing the 3D coupled thermo-hygro-mechanical behavior of concrete, modeled as a multiphase porous medium, both at the macroscale and the mesoscale level. The required damage law is thought to be a function of the neutron flux impinging the concrete shielding wall, and a good estimate of this quantity has been provided by means of a Monte Carlo code developed by CERN and the National Institute of Nuclear Physics of Milan, Italy; this code handles radiation transport calculations and represents at this day one of the most reliable procedures for dealing with the interaction of radiation and matter. The suggested procedure for the radiation damage evaluation has allowed for discussing on differences between mesolevel and macrolevel approaches. Stochastic contour maps of the expected radiation field, properly interfaced with the numerical FE code, have allowed for obtaining a more precise evaluation of the radiation damage front as well as its evolution in time. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.