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Title: Post-Irradiation Examination of 237Np Targets for 238Pu Production

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is recovering the US 238Pu production capability and the first step in the process has been to evaluate the performance of a 237Np target cermet pellet encased in an aluminum clad. The process proceeded in 3 steps; the first step was to irradiate capsules of single pellets composed of NpO2 and aluminum power to examine their shrinkage and gas release. These pellets were formed by compressing sintered NpO2 and aluminum powder in a die at high pressure followed by sintering in a vacuum furnace. Three temperatures were chosen for sintering the solution precipitated NpO2 power used for pellet fabrication. The second step was to irradiate partial targets composed of 8 pellets in a semi-prototypical arrangement at the two best performing sintering temperatures to determine which temperature gave a pellet that performed the best under the actual planned irradiation conditions. The third step was to irradiate ~50 pellets in an actual target configuration at design irradiation conditions to assess pellet shrinkage and gas release, target heat transfer, and dimensional stability. The higher sintering temperature appeared to offer the best performance after one cycle of irradiation by having the least shrinkage, thus keeping the heat transfer gap betweenmore » the pellets and clad small minimizing the pellet operating temperature. The final result of the testing was a target that can meet the initial production goals, satisfy the reactor safety requirements, and can be fabricated in production quantities. The current focus of the program is to verify that the target can be remotely dissembled, the pellets dissolved, and the 238Pu recovered. Tests are being conducted to examine these concerns and to compare results to code predictions. Once the performance of the full length targets has been quantified, the pellet 237Np loading will be revisited to determine if it can be increased to increase 238Pu production.« less
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  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Resource Relation:
Conference: Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space 2015, Albuquerque, NM, USA, 20150223, 20150226
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
ORNL work for others
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 07 ISOTOPE AND RADIATION SOURCES NESDPS Office of Nuclear Energy Space and Defense Power Systems; Post-Irradiation Examination; Np-237 Target; Pu-238; Cermet pellet