B4C is widely used as control rods in light water reactors, such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, because it shows excellent neutron absorption and has a high melting point. However, B4C can melt at lower temperatures owing to eutectic interactions with stainless steel and can even evaporate by reacting with high-temperature steam under severe accident conditions. To reduce the risk of recriticality, a precise understanding of the location and chemical state of B in the melt core is necessary. Here we show that a novel soft X-ray emission spectrometer in electron probe microanalysis can help to obtain a chemical state map of B in a modeled control rod after a high-temperature steam oxidation test.
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