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Title: A Multi-Stage Wear Model for Grid-to-Rod Fretting of Nuclear Fuel Rods

The wear of fuel rod cladding against the supporting structures in the cores of pressurized water nuclear reactors (PWRs) is an important and potentially costly tribological issue. Grid-to-rod fretting (GTRF), as it is known, involves not only time-varying contact conditions, but also elevated temperatures, flowing hot water, aqueous tribo-corrosion, and the embrittling effects of neutron fluences. The multi-stage, closed-form analytical model described in this paper relies on published out-of-reactor wear and corrosion data and a set of simplifying assumptions to portray the conversion of frictional work into wear depth. The cladding material of interest is a zirconium-based alloy called Zircaloy-4, and the grid support is made of a harder and more wear-resistant material. Focus is on the wear of the cladding. The model involves an incubation stage, a surface oxide wear stage, and a base alloy wear stage. The wear coefficient, which is a measure of the efficiency of conversion of frictional work into wear damage, can change to reflect the evolving metallurgical condition of the alloy. Wear coefficients for Zircaloy-4 and for a polyphase zirconia layer were back-calculated for a range of times required to wear to a critical depth. Inputs for the model, like the friction coefficient, aremore » taken from the tribology literature in lieu of in-reactor tribological data. Concepts of classical fretting were used as a basis, but are modified to enable the model to accommodate the complexities of the PWR environment. Factors like grid spring relaxation, pre-oxidation of the cladding, multiple oxide phases, gap formation, impact, and hydrogen embrittlement are part of the problem definition but uncertainties in their relative roles limits the ability to validate the model. Sample calculations of wear depth versus time in the cladding illustrate how GTRF wear might occur in a discontinuous fashion during months-long reactor operating cycles. A means to account for grid/rod gaps and repetitive impact effects on GTRF wear is proposed« less
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Wear; Journal Volume: 313; Journal Issue: 1-2
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
fretting; Zircaloy-4; wear; grid-to-rod fretting