Argonne National Laboratory
RERTR
Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors
Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne
U.S. Department of Energy

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Abstracts and Available Papers Presented at the
2002 International RERTR Meeting

BEHAVIOUR OF IRRADIATED URANIUM SILICIDE FUEL REVISITED

M. Ross Finlay*, Gerard L. Hofman, Jeffrey Rest, and James L. Snelgrove

Argonne National Laboratory
9700 South Cass Avenue
Argonne, IL 60439

*On assignment from the
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
PMB 1 Menai NSW 2234
Australia

ABSTRACT

Irradiated U3Si2 dispersion fuels demonstrate very low levels of swelling, even at extremely high burn-up.  This behaviour is attributed to the stability of fission gas bubbles that develop during irradiation.  The bubbles remain uniformly distributed throughout the fuel and show no obvious signs of coalescence.  Close examination of high burn-up samples during the U3Si2 qualification program revealed a bimodal distribution of fission gas bubbles.  Those observations suggested that an underlying microstructure was responsible for the behaviour.  An irradiation induced recrystallisation model was developed that relied on the presence of sufficient grain boundary surface to trap and pin fission gas bubbles and prevent coalescence.

However, more recent work has revealed that the U3Si2 becomes amorphous almost instantaneously upon irradiation.  Consequently, the recrystallisation model does not adequately explain the nucleation and growth of fission gas bubbles in U3Si2.  Whilst it appears to work well within the range of measured data, it cannot be relied on to extrapolate beyond that range since it is not mechanistically valid.  A review of the mini-plates irradiated in the Oak Ridge Research Reactor from the U3Si2 qualification program has been performed.  This has yielded a new understanding of U3Si2 behaviour under irradiation.


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Contact:
Mr. Ross Finlay

ANSTO Materials Division
Private Mail Bag 1, Menai NSW 2234 Australia
Phone: (61 2) 9717 9231
E-mail: mrf@ansto.gov.au
E-mail: rfinlay@anl.gov

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Last modified on July 29, 2008 11:34 +0200