Founding member receives the Felippe Carneiro Medal.

Angelo Fernando Padilha, full professor at the Polytechnic School of USP (EPUSP), was honored by the Brazilian National Commission of Nuclear Energy (CNEN) with the Felippe Carneiro Medal, aimed at distinguishing personalities who stood out in the development of peaceful nuclear energy applications. The award was held on October 10, during the ceremony of the 62nd Anniversary of CNEN, at the headquarters of the entity, located in Rio de Janeiro. Padilha was president of CNEN from 2011 to 2015.

In 2000, Padilha participated in the committee that founded B-MRS.

CNEN present President and Directors, and former President Angelo Fernando Padilha receiving the recognition (Foto: Douglas Troufa /CNEN).
CNEN present President and Directors, and former President Angelo Fernando Padilha receiving the recognition (Foto: Douglas Troufa /CNEN).

People from our community: interview with Angelo Fernando Padilha.

Prof. Angelo Fernando Padilha (USP).
Prof. Angelo Fernando Padilha (USP).

Angelo Fernando Padilha was born on August 30, 1951 in Novo Horizonte, a small city in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. He attended primary school and the first years of high school in his native city, and when he was 16 years old he moved to São Carlos, some 170 km from Novo Horizonte, to enroll in a “scientific course” that covered the last three years of secondary education and that provided the student a more in depth education than the “classical course” in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

In 1970, he enrolled in the just created undergraduate course in Materials Engineering at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar). He graduated in 1974. The following year he participated in a specialization in Nuclear Science and Technology of the Brazilian National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), offered at the Institute of Atomic Energy (IEA), currently the Nuclear and Energy Research Institute (IPEN), in the city of Sao Paulo. That same year he began working at IEA with research and development of materials for nuclear reactors. Also in 1975, Padilha began his master’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering at the University of São Paulo (USP), which he concluded in 1977 with the approval of his dissertation on recovery and recrystallization in aluminum alloy.

In 1978, still with the IEA, he began his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the Universität Karlsruhe, now Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), Germany, obtaining a Doktor-Ingenieur diploma in 1981 after defending his thesis on precipitation in stainless steel, used in the fuel element of the German fast breeder reactor SNR-300. The following year, at the Max Planck Institut für Metallforschung in Stuttgart, Germany, Padilha participated in a three-month specialization in Materials Science in which he studied phase diagrams involving refractory metals.

From 1984 to 1986, in addition to his research activities at IPEN, he was professor in the undergraduate course in Metallurgical Engineering at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, also in São Paulo.

From 1987 to 1988, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Ruhr Universität Bochum (RUB) in Germany.

In 1988, after 13 years working at IPEN, Angelo Padilha became a lecturer at the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (EPUSP). At the Polytechnic he became Adjunct Professor in 1989, and in 1993 he was approved as a Full Professor.

In 1993, he returned to RUB, Germany, for a specialization in duplex stainless steels. In 1998, he held a second postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wales Swansea, now Swansea University, UK.

From July 2011 to November 2015, USP granted him a leave of absence to hold management positions in agencies linked to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), currently Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC). During this period he was president of CNEN and of its deliberative commission, president of the National Fusion Network – RNF (created in 2006 to coordinate and expand nuclear fusion research in Brazil) and president of the board of directors of two nuclear companies linked to the MCTI , Nuclebras Heavy Equipment (NUCLEP) and Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB). He was also a member of the sector funds coordination committee and from 2012 to 2014 he was a member of the technical-scientific council of the Brazilian Center for Research on Physics (CBPF).

He is the author of more than 100 papers published in indexed scientific journals and about twenty books and book chapters, such as the well-known in Brazil textbook “Materiais de Engenharia.” His academic work has approximately 2,800 citations, according to Google Scholar. He has supervised 25 master’s dissertations and 24 doctoral theses.

Throughout his professional career, Padilha received several awards from the Presidency of the Republic, the Brazilian Navy and the Brazilian Association of Metallurgy and Materials (ABM), among other entities.

Currently, Angelo Padilha is a full professor at EPUSP where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and carries out research on metals. He has been a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the State of São Paulo since 2012 and a senior level CNPq productivity grant holder (level awarded to active scientists in research and teaching of human resources who have been 1 A or B level for a minimum of 15 years). His h index is 27, according to Google Scholar.

Our interview with the researcher.

SBPMat Bulletin: Tell us what led you to study materials engineering in the first group of Materials Engineering in Latin America (UFSCar, 1970-1974) and then become a researcher in the field.

Angelo F. Padilha: I had already decided to be an engineer while in high school, but I was not sure about which engineering modality I would choose. After completing high school in my hometown (Novo Horizonte, SP), I went to São Carlos to begin the scientific course. São Carlos was fundamental for my academic background. The city offered everything a 16-year-old boy could wish for! In the student environment there was plenty of culture, debate and rebelliousness. I’m talking about the beginning of 1967. The worst period of the military regime that had started in 1964 was yet to come.

My aunt told me about the creation of a materials engineering course in São Carlos after reading an article or an interview by Professor Sérgio Mascarenhas in the city newspaper, which made an impression. It was the first time I had heard of this Engineering modality. The entrance examination aroused my curiosity as it was very different from the exams of that time. I did very well and later I enrolled. The first group of materials engineering at UFSCar consisted of 50 students: 2 girls and 48 boys. The university had been installed on a farm of more than 200 acres, not far from the city, and the initial facilities were adapted. It was a calm and warm environment. Today, I can better evaluate what that meant and I am convinced that the course as a whole was excellent. The course offered us a consistent and modern scientific basis. The experimental classes were of the highest quality I know of for an engineering course. Thanks to the scientific and technological base acquired during my five years at UFSCar, I was able to take full advantage of the master’s degree in metallurgical engineering at the Polytechnic School and then the PhD at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Karlsruhe. Many students in our class carried out postgraduate studies at top universities in Brazil and abroad.

SBPMat Bulletin: From your perspective, what are your main contributions to the materials field? Please give us a brief description of the contributions you believe had the greatest or most outstanding impacts considering all aspects of your scientific activity.

Angelo F. Padilha: The materials area did a lot more for me than I did for it. I have never worked on the frontier of knowledge, nor have I sought scientific niches. I use modern scientific concepts and advanced experimental techniques to study, understand and perfect traditional and widely used materials such as steels and aluminum alloys. For example, my most read and cited paper (in co-authorship with Paulo Rangel Rios) is a review paper published in 2002, which discusses the microstructure of austenitic stainless steels; a material discovered in 1911 which is still widely used.

I consider writing technical books in Portuguese as a gratifying commitment. I published my first book on techniques of microstructural analysis, in co-authorship with Francisco Ambrózio Filho, in 1985. I am very grateful to see my books distributed throughout several libraries in the country. Although they are all very simple, they are read as well as cited.

I truly enjoy teaching, I have had hundreds, maybe thousands of students and have supervised dozens of students. To this day I am pleased to mentor students and to teach first-year materials science classes at Poli as well as more specific subjects in the final years of undergraduate and graduate studies. I believe the interaction with the industry is fundamental for a professor and researcher in the area of engineering. More than half of the work I did was in cooperation with the industry.

SBPMat Bulletin: Your trajectory in research and management in institutions of the nuclear energy segment is significant. From your perspective, what are the research materials challenges for the nuclear area?

Angelo F. Padilha: My first job as an engineer was in the nuclear area, in the Coordination of Materials Science and Technology (CCTM) of the Institute of Atomic Energy (IEA), now IPEN-CNEN. The group was created and headed by Professor Shigueo Watanabe. It consisted of about 50 people, nearly all solid-state physicists. My interaction with them was an important school for me.

The applications of nuclear technology include not only nuclear power generation, but also numerous applications in industry, medicine, agriculture, in addition to nuclear propulsion. For example, the number of people who have already benefited from the radioactive drugs produced at IPEN is comparable to the number of people who benefit from the electricity generated by the reactors installed in Angra dos Reis.

Almost all materials used in the construction of a nuclear reactor, a nuclear powered submarine, or a centrifuge for enriching uranium isotopes are materials that were not developed for these applications. In the 1950s, when Americans built the first nuclear-power generating reactor and the first nuclear-powered submarine, in terms of materials, they had to primarily develop uranium and zirconium technology. Hundreds of other materials crucial for the aforementioned applications were already available or only needed some adaptation.

On the other hand, nuclear technologies have some particular characteristics: i) they are dominated by few countries; ii) many of them cannot be purchased on the market; iii) there is little international cooperation, especially in sensitive nuclear technologies; iv) they are complex technologies and require a great deal of human and economic resources to be developed; v) they are generally mature technologies, mastered and perfected over decades. By mastering a mature technology a country can quickly turn it into geopolitical or economic advantage.

Over the last sixty years Brazil has built a nuclear program that can be classified as one of the ten or twelve most important on the planet. Additionally, we have large uranium reserves. From a materials point of view, we still depend on imports, which often encounter enormous obstacles. I believe the biggest challenges and opportunities in the area of materials for nuclear applications lie in national production, in adaptations and in improvements. Future innovations are more likely to be incremental than radical.

SBPMat Bulletin: Leave a message for our readers who are initiating their scientific careers.

Angelo F. Padilha: Go after a consistent scientific education, the rest will be a consequence. A researcher with a deep understanding of the fundamental disciplines such as thermodynamics, crystallography and phase transformation will always be welcome in any research group. Do not be discouraged when facing our gargantuan and tangled bureaucracy.

SBPMat Bulletin: Your name appears in the “interdisciplinary materials commission,” created at the end of 2000 to make possible the foundation of SBPMat. Could you share some recollections or comments about your participation in the creation this society?

Angelo F. Padilha: I believe SBPMat was created at the right time and with the right profile. I consider this to be the main reason for its enduring success. Overall, the “Interdisciplinary Materials Commission” contributed in some way; some more than others. I am certainly among the least contributors. I think the articulating ability of Guillermo Solórzano and the scientific leadership of Edgar Zanotto were decisive. I am proud to have participated in the creation of SBPMat.


Brazilian Multipurpose Reactor: a national laboratory of neutrons for the Materials research community.

Building of the reactor and labs.

At the end of September 2015, in the context of the XIV SBPMat Meeting, around 40 researchers of the Materials field participated in a symposium about the Brazilian Multipurpose Reactor (RMB), a project that has been developed by the Brazilian National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) and that, when inaugurated in Iperó (SP), will add an important research tool to the current facilities that Brazil has.

As a matter of fact, the RMB will provide beams of neutrons that, when interacting with samples and with the mediation of several experimental techniques, will be able to provide unique information about the structure of the materials. For such, the RMB project envisions the construction of a series of laboratories with diffractometer equipment (of high resolution, of high intensity, Laue, of residual tension); small angle scattering; analysis of prompt gamma; triple-axis spectrometry and neutrongraphy, among other techniques. This research infrastructure must comprise a laboratory open to the scientific community and working day and night, more than 300 days a year: the Brazilian National Laboratory of Neutrons.

As indicated by its name, RMB will meet several goals. Besides providing beams of neutrons for scientific research, it will be used in irradiation tests of materials and fuels used in nuclear power plants for electricity generation and submarines propelled by nuclear reactors, for instance. The reactor will also have the important mission of producing radioisotopes and radioactive sources for health, industry, agriculture and environment, replacing imports and even generating exports.

Interview with the technical coordinator

To further explain the RMB project and, in particular, its applications in materials science and technology, we interviewed José Augusto Perrotta, technical coordinator of the RMB enterprise. Master in Nuclear Engineering by the Military Institute of Engineering (IME), and PhD in Nuclear Technology by the São Paulo University (USP), Perrotta works as technologist at CNEN since 1983.

SBPMat Newsletter:Briefly comment about all the possibilities that the future RMB will offer to the materials science and technology community. In what way the beams of neutrons can be used for research and development in this area?

Production and research nucleus.

José Perrotta: – RMB is an enterprise that has as its core part a nuclear multipurpose research reactor and several laboratories to perform research, services and products.

The reactor was conceived with a high flow of neutrons to:

i.        Produce radioisotopes in the quality and amount needed to Brazilian applications;

ii.        Have the ability to irradiate and test nuclear fuels used in the several applications and irradiation conditions within the Brazilian nuclear program;

iii.        Have the ability to irradiate materials with neutrons and check its performance under irradiation;

iv.        Have the possibility to irradiate samples to perform a chemical analysis via activation of neutrons;

v.        Extract beams of neutrons for research on materials structure in several application areas.

Regarding item (ii), the reactor is prepared to receive fuel samples and irradiation circuits that simulate the conditions of PWR reactors, that is, test fuels of the power reactors used or developed in the country.

Regarding item (iii), inside the reactor core there are two positions with high flow of neutrons for irradiations of materials. In these positions, samples can be placed in capsules with a controlled environment (temperature and medium of insertion of the sample). In these positions, samples of structural materials and samples of components of power reactors used in the country can be tested.

The reactor and the infrastructure of the reactor (pools, hot cells and transport shields) are designed to meet the two previous items (ii and iii).

A Post-Irradiation Analysis Laboratory is designed with hot cells and the entire infrastructure for mechanical, physical and microscopy analysis of the irradiated samples, both for the samples of irradiated fuels and for the structural materials.

Regarding item (iv), a laboratory of analysis by activation and radiochemistry is projected. The laboratory is connected to the reactor via pneumatic pipes that allow sending samples for irradiation in the reactor and bring them back to the laboratory for analysis. Several irradiation positions were defined in the reactor, varying the range of flow of neutrons in which the irradiations can be performed. The laboratory has hot cells to receive and handle the irradiated samples before their destination to the analysis equipment (radiochemistry or gamma spectrometry). The laboratory will be managed as a national laboratory, which will allow its use by the Brazilian scientific community.

Regarding item (v), the reactor is designed with a heavy water reflector tank that, mechanically, allows the extraction of beams of neutrons. These neutrons are thermal, and in order to obtain cold neutrons a small tank with deuterium at 19ºK (cold source) is designed. Thermal neutrons will be extracted in two positions and cold neutrons in two other. Each extraction tube may contain up to three neutrons guides. These guides will conduct the beam of neutrons for positions in a lobby of experiments at the building of the reactor, and in a building called neutron guides building. Scientific and technological equipment can be attached to the neutron guides for the analysis of the samples with the beam of neutrons. There is an additional thermal neutron extraction tube to make images with beam of neutrons (neutrongraphy). The experiments lobby in the reactor building and the guides building will form what we call “National Laboratory of Neutrons” (LNN).

SBPMat Newsletter: Will there be experimental stations for Materials Science and Technology, analogous to the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS)? Which ones? Will they be open to the entire scientific community? Will they operate constantly while the reactor is working?

José Perrotta: – The neutrons lines, as mentioned, are five: three with thermal neutrons and two with cold neutrons. Four of the lines can have up to three guides. In these guides, the experimental instruments (or stations) will be placed.

The following stations might be available since the beginning of the operation of the National Laboratory of Neutrons

i.        Neutrons Guides Building.

  • For thermal neutrons: High Resolution Diffractometer; High Intensity Diffractometer; Laue Diffractometer; Residual Tension Diffractometer.
  • For cold neutrons: Small Angle Scattering; Prompt Gamma Analysis

ii.        Experiments Lobby in the Reactor Building.

  • Thermal Neutrons: Triple Axis Spectrometer; Neutrongraphy
The table shows the power of other research reactors worldwide. The Brazilian RMB will have a power of 30 MW. (Data provided by José Perrotta)

The RMB will bring to the country’s research community an important laboratory for utilization of neutrons beams. This laboratory, per its technical characteristics, is complementary to the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS), which also has a large scale project, the Sirius. It is a proposal of the RMB enterprise that the National Laboratory of Neutrons is, like the LNLS, a national laboratory. This will facilitate the access of the Brazilian scientific society to the facility.

The functioning of the neutrons lines is related to the operation of the reactor. The reactor will operate 24 hours a day, in cycles of 25-28 days, in a way to achieve availability higher than 80% of the annual time (more than 300 days in full operation). The LNN can operate during all this time.

An important point is that the LNN will be operationally independent regarding the operation of the reactor, that is, the operation of the reactor offers the beam of neutrons and does not interfere in the operation of the LNN.

SBPMat Newsletter: From the point of view of materials science and technology, which would be the advantages of the future RMB regarding the other reactors currently existing in Brazil?

José Perrotta: – Brazil has four research nuclear reactors in operation. The oldest one, and also the one with higher power (5 MW), is the IEA-R1 reactor from the Institute for Nuclear and Energy Research (IPEN) in São Paulo, which was unveiled in 1957. Other two low power research reactors, the IPR-R1 reactor of the Center for Nuclear Technology Development (CDTN) in Belo Horizonte (100 kW) and the Argonauta reactor of the Institute for Nuclear Engineering (IEN) in Rio de Janeiro (500 W) were built in the 1960s. These three reactors, of North-American designs, were built inside the university campuses of USP, UFMG and UFRJ, respectively, and originated the main nuclear research institutes of the Brazilian National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), which developed themselves in proportion of the size of the reactors and their applications. These reactors and the CNEN institutes growing around them were essential in the development and use of nuclear technology that we have in the country today, and in the formation of the associated human resources. The fourth research nuclear reactor, the IPEN/MB-01 at IPEN, is an installation of the critical unit type (100 W) and was built in the 1980s, already with national technology, aiming towards the autonomous development of technology for power nuclear reactors.

The RMB reactor´s power is 30 MW and has modern design and conception. The reactors existing today in the country do not have flow of neutrons to ensure commercial operation or adequate characteristics for a high level research. In addition to being a more modern installation, the flow of neutrons of the RMB is one order of magnitude higher than the IEA-R1, and has functions that are not met by this reactor today.  The other three reactors have really low flow of neutrons.

SBPMat Newsletter:Could you estimate when the RMB and its research laboratories would be launched?

The RMB enterprise can be carried out in a period of 6 to 7 years. In the current stage of development, this would occur in 2022, if the full resources for the project are made available. It is important to highlight that, besides the need for intensive financial resources for its execution, the enterprise requires environmental and nuclear licenses for its construction and operation, since it has nuclear and radioactive facilities. This implies additional times for its implementation.

Funders and partners in the development of the RMB

The execution of the RMB project occurs under the responsibility of the Brazilian National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN).

The enterprise is coordinated by the Research and Development Directory of CNEN and developed by its research institutes: Nuclear Energy Research Institute (IPEN), Nuclear Engineering Institute (IEN), Nuclear Technology Development Center (CDTN), Northeast Regional Center of Nuclear Sciences (CRCN-NE) and Radiological Protection and Dosimetry Institute (IRD).

Throughout the stages of development of the RMB, CNEN counts and will count on partnerships, as well as contracts of national and foreign companies. Some of the partners participating so far: Brazilian Navy and the São Paulo State government, in the concession of the land where the RMB will be placed; the Brazilian Navy Technology Center in São Paulo (CTMSP); the cooperation of CNEN with the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) from Argentina, which develops in Argentina the research nuclear reactor RA-10, similar to RMB. Contracted companies: Argentine company INVAP, which designed the Australian OPAL research reactor, and Brazilian company Intertechne have developed the basic engineering design of the enterprise.

With an estimated cost of US$500 million, the RMB is sponsored by the Brazilian Federal Government through the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI).