Pore growth in U-Mo/Al dispersion fuel

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Abstract

U-Mo/Al dispersion fuel is currently under development in the DOE's Material Management and Minimization program to convert HEU-fueled research reactors to LEU-fueled reactors. In some demanding conditions in high-power and high-performance reactors, large pores form in the interaction layers between the U-Mo fuel particles and the Al matrix, which pose a potential to cause fuel failure. In this study, comprehension of the formation and growth of these pores was explored. As a product, a model to predict pore growth and porosity increase was developed. The model includes three major topics: fission gas release from the U-Mo and the IL to the pores, stress evolution in the fuel meat, and the effect of amorphous IL growth. Well-characterized in-pile data from reduced-size plates were used to fit the model parameters. A data set from full-sized plates, independent and distinctively different from those used to fit the model parameters, was used to examine the accuracy of the model. The model showed fair agreement with the measured data. The model suggested that the growth of the IL has a critical effect on pore growth, as both its material properties and energetics are favorable to pore formation. Therefore, one area of the current effort, focused on suppressing IL growth, appears to be on the right track to improve the performance of this fuel.

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Kim, Y. S., Jeong, G. Y., Sohn, D. S., & Jamison, L. M. (2016). Pore growth in U-Mo/Al dispersion fuel. Journal of Nuclear Materials, 478, 275–286. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2016.06.029

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