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Title: Experimental assessment of fuel-cladding interactions

Abstract

A range of fuel concepts designed to better tolerate accident scenarios and reactor transients are currently undergoing fundamental development at national laboratories as well as university and industrial partners. Pellet-clad mechanical and chemical interaction can be expected to affect fuel failure rates experienced during steady state operation, as well as dramatically impact the response of the fuel form under loss of coolant and other accident scenarios. The importance of this aspect of fuel design prompted research initiated by AFC in FY14 to begin exploratory efforts to characterize this phenomenon for candidate fuelcladding systems of immediate interest. Continued efforts in FY15 and FY17 aimed to better understand and simulate initial pellet-clad interaction with little-to-no pressure on the pellet-clad interface. Reported here are the results from 1000 h heat treatments at 400, 500, and 600°C of diffusion couples pairing UN with a FeCrAl alloy, SiC, and Zr-based cladding candidate sealed in evacuated quartz ampoules. No gross reactions were observed, though trace elemental contaminants were identified.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
OSTI Identifier:
1367820
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-17-25215
DOE Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Material Science

Citation Formats

Wood, Elizabeth Sooby. Experimental assessment of fuel-cladding interactions. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1367820.
Wood, Elizabeth Sooby. Experimental assessment of fuel-cladding interactions. United States. doi:10.2172/1367820.
Wood, Elizabeth Sooby. Thu . "Experimental assessment of fuel-cladding interactions". United States. doi:10.2172/1367820. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1367820.
@article{osti_1367820,
title = {Experimental assessment of fuel-cladding interactions},
author = {Wood, Elizabeth Sooby},
abstractNote = {A range of fuel concepts designed to better tolerate accident scenarios and reactor transients are currently undergoing fundamental development at national laboratories as well as university and industrial partners. Pellet-clad mechanical and chemical interaction can be expected to affect fuel failure rates experienced during steady state operation, as well as dramatically impact the response of the fuel form under loss of coolant and other accident scenarios. The importance of this aspect of fuel design prompted research initiated by AFC in FY14 to begin exploratory efforts to characterize this phenomenon for candidate fuelcladding systems of immediate interest. Continued efforts in FY15 and FY17 aimed to better understand and simulate initial pellet-clad interaction with little-to-no pressure on the pellet-clad interface. Reported here are the results from 1000 h heat treatments at 400, 500, and 600°C of diffusion couples pairing UN with a FeCrAl alloy, SiC, and Zr-based cladding candidate sealed in evacuated quartz ampoules. No gross reactions were observed, though trace elemental contaminants were identified.},
doi = {10.2172/1367820},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jun 29 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Thu Jun 29 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Technical Report:

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  • Fuel cladding chemical interactions (FCCI) have been acknowledged as a critical issue in a metallic fuel/steel cladding system due to the formation of low melting intermetallic eutectic compounds between the fuel and cladding steel, resulting in reduction in cladding wall thickness as well as a formation of eutectic compounds that can initiate melting in the fuel at lower temperature. In order to mitigate FCCI, diffusion barrier coatings on the cladding inner surface have been considered. In order to generate the required coating techniques, pack cementation, electroplating, and electrophoretic deposition have been investigated. However, these methods require a high processing temperaturemore » of above 700 oC, resulting in decarburization and decomposition of the martensites in a ferritic/martensitic (F/M) cladding steel. Alternatively, organometallic chemical vapor deposition (OMCVD) can be a promising process due to its low processing temperature of below 600 oC. The aim of the project is to conduct applied and fundamental research towards the development of diffusion barrier coatings on the inner surface of F/M fuel cladding tubes. Advanced cladding steels such as T91, HT9 and NF616 have been developed and extensively studied as advanced cladding materials due to their excellent irradiation and corrosion resistance. However, the FCCI accelerated by the elevated temperature and high neutron exposure anticipated in fast reactors, can have severe detrimental effects on the cladding steels through the diffusion of Fe into fuel and lanthanides towards into the claddings. To test the functionality of developed coating layer, the diffusion couple experiments were focused on using T91 as cladding and Ce as a surrogate lanthanum fission product. By using the customized OMCVD coating equipment, thin and compact layers with a few micron between 1.5 µm and 8 µm thick and average grain size of 200 nm and 5 µm were successfully obtained at the specimen coated between 300oC and 500 oC, respectively. The coating layer contains both carbon and vanadium elements as quantified by WED, and the phases mainly consist of a mixture of V2C and VC, which was confirmed using X-ray diffraction patterns. In addition, the ratio between V and C varies with processing temperature, and it was observed that a higher temperature promotes the carbon adsorption and increases thickness of the coating. With optimized deposition conditions, we can apply the coating technique toward the actual T91 cladding materials, and provide the possibilities for the real application in sodium-cooled fast reactors (SFRs). Diffusion couple experiments were performed at both 550 oC and 690 oC, which corresponds to normal and aggressive operating temperatures, respectively. The results show that vanadium carbide coating with wider thickness (8 µm) and lower carbon concentration (27 at.%) reduced the width of the inter diffusion region, indicating that vanadium carbide coating can mitigate FCCI effectively. In specific, inter-diffusion between Fe and Ce was prohibited over most area, but Ce diffusion occurred toward the coating and the Fe substrate through thinner coating layer, which needs further optimization in terms of uniform coating thickness. Overall, it is concluded that this coating process can be successfully applied onto the inner surface of HT9 cladding tubes and the FCCI can be effectively mitigated if not totally eliminated.« less
  • PWR spent fuel cladding from the Turkey Point and H.B. Robinson nuclear power plans has been well documented with respect to the oxide surface layer, hydrogen/hydride ppt, radiation history, etc. Evidence indicates that these materials are representative of the general population of PWR cladding. Similar representative materials have not yet been identified for BWR spent fuel cladding. Corrosion test samples are being chosen where possible to empirically evaluate the full spectrum of cladding characteristics. This approach is being taken because there is no data that would a priori dismiss any cladding characteristic as not significantly influencing corrosion processes. 8 refs.,more » 3 tabs.« less
  • A fuel Pellet-Zircaloy Cladding (thermo-mechanical-chemical) interactions (PCI) failure model for estimating the Probability of Failure in Transient Increases in Power (PROFIT) was developed. PROFIT is based on (1) standard statistical methods applied to available PCI fuel failure data and (2) a mechanistic analysis of the environmental and strain-rate-dependent stress versus strain characteristics of Zircaloy cladding. The statistical analysis of fuel failures attributable to PCI suggested that parameters in addition to power, transient increase in power, and burnup are needed to define PCI fuel failures in terms of probability estimates with known confidence limits. The PROFIT model, therefore, introduces an environmentalmore » and strain-rate dependent Strain Energy Absorption to Failure (SEAF) concept to account for the stress versus strain anomalies attributable to interstitial-dislocation interaction effects in the Zircaloy cladding.« less