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Title: Tritium Pressure Enhancement on the TPBAR Cladding by Physical Processes at the Getter.

Abstract

Tritium for the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile is produced in tritium producing burnable absorber rods (TPBARs) inserted into Tennessee Valley Authoritys (TVA) light-water nuclear reactors. The rods are stainless steel tubes with a permeation barrier coating and internal components that generate and contain the tritium. The TPBAR incorporates a Ni-plated Zircoloy getter tube to capture tritium and prevent it from reaching the rod cladding and permeating into the environment. Under the conventional view of getter behavior, the tritium pressure outside the getter tube is expected to be limited to the equilibrium vapor pressure of Zr hydride at the temperature of the rod as long as the total hydrogen concentration remains below the capacity of the hydride. Since the tritium pressure is higher within the rod core, this behavior relies on the thin getters ability to hold off a differential tritium pressure. The effective tritium pressure on the cladding can also be enhanced by isotope exchange. Hydrogen ingress through the cladding from the reactor coolant creates a hydrogen pressure on the outer surface of the getter that can exchange with tritium, allowing the tritium partial pressure to increase toward this hydrogen gettering pressure. The goal of is work was to usemore » laboratory-scale experiments to examine these mechanisms and create a model of getter behavior that describes tritium transport within the TPBAR. A third mechanism wherein the concentration at the outer surface of the getter is increased by the temperature gradient within the getter tube wall (the Soret effect) is not experimentally tested but is captured in the model. While not conclusively demonstrated by the experiments due to low pressure, high temperature, and small gap volume conditions, the model shows that when combined, the three mechanisms can explain both the magnitude and time dependence of the tritium release observed for reactor fuel assemblies with TPBARs. The model also shows how various modifications of the TPBAR design can reduce this tritium release into the environment.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-CA), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1597204
Report Number(s):
SAND2020-0768
683330
DOE Contract Number:  
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Cowgill, Donald F. Tritium Pressure Enhancement on the TPBAR Cladding by Physical Processes at the Getter.. United States: N. p., 2020. Web. doi:10.2172/1597204.
Cowgill, Donald F. Tritium Pressure Enhancement on the TPBAR Cladding by Physical Processes at the Getter.. United States. doi:10.2172/1597204.
Cowgill, Donald F. Wed . "Tritium Pressure Enhancement on the TPBAR Cladding by Physical Processes at the Getter.". United States. doi:10.2172/1597204. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1597204.
@article{osti_1597204,
title = {Tritium Pressure Enhancement on the TPBAR Cladding by Physical Processes at the Getter.},
author = {Cowgill, Donald F.},
abstractNote = {Tritium for the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile is produced in tritium producing burnable absorber rods (TPBARs) inserted into Tennessee Valley Authoritys (TVA) light-water nuclear reactors. The rods are stainless steel tubes with a permeation barrier coating and internal components that generate and contain the tritium. The TPBAR incorporates a Ni-plated Zircoloy getter tube to capture tritium and prevent it from reaching the rod cladding and permeating into the environment. Under the conventional view of getter behavior, the tritium pressure outside the getter tube is expected to be limited to the equilibrium vapor pressure of Zr hydride at the temperature of the rod as long as the total hydrogen concentration remains below the capacity of the hydride. Since the tritium pressure is higher within the rod core, this behavior relies on the thin getters ability to hold off a differential tritium pressure. The effective tritium pressure on the cladding can also be enhanced by isotope exchange. Hydrogen ingress through the cladding from the reactor coolant creates a hydrogen pressure on the outer surface of the getter that can exchange with tritium, allowing the tritium partial pressure to increase toward this hydrogen gettering pressure. The goal of is work was to use laboratory-scale experiments to examine these mechanisms and create a model of getter behavior that describes tritium transport within the TPBAR. A third mechanism wherein the concentration at the outer surface of the getter is increased by the temperature gradient within the getter tube wall (the Soret effect) is not experimentally tested but is captured in the model. While not conclusively demonstrated by the experiments due to low pressure, high temperature, and small gap volume conditions, the model shows that when combined, the three mechanisms can explain both the magnitude and time dependence of the tritium release observed for reactor fuel assemblies with TPBARs. The model also shows how various modifications of the TPBAR design can reduce this tritium release into the environment.},
doi = {10.2172/1597204},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2020},
month = {1}
}