The International Materials Aging Institute will conduct research to explain and anticipate the aging of materials in existing power production facilities such as the Ice Harbor Lock and Dam on Lake Sacajawea in Washington.

A newly formed collaborative research facility will examine the critical link between materials science and power plant component performance and degradation. The International Materials Aging Institute was jointly created by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI); London-based EDF Energy; and Tokyo-based Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

The center’s mission is to explain and anticipate the aging of materials in existing power production facilities, to improve knowledge of high-temperature materials behavior in future power plants, and to maintain expertise and skills on materials science. The research will provide a technical foundation to support the continued safe, efficient and cost-effective operation of power plants worldwide and support the construction of new plants to ensure that they are built to the highest industry and technical standards. Research will encompass materials issues at nuclear, fossil and hydroelectric generation facilities.

With an initial budget of $13.1 million, the institute has selected nine projects to establish the research and development program for 2008. Among the areas that will be analyzed are equipment corrosion, component and material degradation due to irradiation, nonmetallic material performance and concrete aging.

The Materials Aging Institute will be based at EDF’s facilities in les Renardieres, France. EDF is investing $22.3 million to erect a new building to house the institute and is purchasing laboratory equipment, including three electron microscopes and numerical simulation tools. The institute will be staffed by members of EDF, EPRI, TEPCO, utility organizations, national laboratories and universities.