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Title: Separate effects irradiation testing of miniature fuel specimens

Abstract

We report that qualification of new nuclear fuels is necessary for their deployment and requires a thorough understanding of fuel behavior under irradiation. Traditionally, nuclear fuels have been qualified by performing exhaustive integral tests under a limited range of prototypic conditions designed for their specific reactor application. While some integral fuel testing is essential, basic data on behavior and property evolution under irradiation can be obtained from separate effects tests. These irradiations could offer reduced cost, reduced complexity, and in the case of accelerated testing, reduced time to achieve a given burnup. Furthermore, it may be desirable to design test irradiations capable of deconvoluting the myriad effects of burnup, temperature gradients, and other factors inherent to integral irradiation tests. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed an experimental capability to perform separate effects irradiation testing of miniature fuel specimens in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR): the “MiniFuel” irradiation vehicle. The small size (<4 mm 3) of the fuel specimens simplifies the design, analysis, and post-irradiation examination. By reducing the fuel mass, the total heat generated inside the experiment vehicle can be dominated by gamma heating in the structural materials instead of fission heating in the fuel. This essentially decouples themore » fuel temperature from the fission rate, allowing for highly accelerated testing (3X-18X the burnup rate of a typical light water reactor for 235U enrichments varying from 0.22 wt% to 8 wt%) and an extremely flexible experiment design that can accommodate a wide range of fuel temperatures (~100 °C to >1200 °C), compositions, enrichments, and even geometries without requiring detailed analyses for each fuel variant. In conclusion, this paper summarizes the experiment design concept, evaluates potential applications for specific fuel forms, and briefly describes the first set of experiments on uranium nitride kernels that have been assembled and are currently being irradiated in the HFIR.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE); USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1561658
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1566923
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Nuclear Materials
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 526; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0022-3115
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 22 GENERAL STUDIES OF NUCLEAR REACTORS; Fuel; Irradiation; Separate effects; Burnup

Citation Formats

Petrie, Christian M., Burns, Joseph R., Raftery, Alicia M., Nelson, Andrew T., and Terrani, Kurt A. Separate effects irradiation testing of miniature fuel specimens. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1016/j.jnucmat.2019.151783.
Petrie, Christian M., Burns, Joseph R., Raftery, Alicia M., Nelson, Andrew T., & Terrani, Kurt A. Separate effects irradiation testing of miniature fuel specimens. United States. doi:10.1016/j.jnucmat.2019.151783.
Petrie, Christian M., Burns, Joseph R., Raftery, Alicia M., Nelson, Andrew T., and Terrani, Kurt A. Tue . "Separate effects irradiation testing of miniature fuel specimens". United States. doi:10.1016/j.jnucmat.2019.151783.
@article{osti_1561658,
title = {Separate effects irradiation testing of miniature fuel specimens},
author = {Petrie, Christian M. and Burns, Joseph R. and Raftery, Alicia M. and Nelson, Andrew T. and Terrani, Kurt A.},
abstractNote = {We report that qualification of new nuclear fuels is necessary for their deployment and requires a thorough understanding of fuel behavior under irradiation. Traditionally, nuclear fuels have been qualified by performing exhaustive integral tests under a limited range of prototypic conditions designed for their specific reactor application. While some integral fuel testing is essential, basic data on behavior and property evolution under irradiation can be obtained from separate effects tests. These irradiations could offer reduced cost, reduced complexity, and in the case of accelerated testing, reduced time to achieve a given burnup. Furthermore, it may be desirable to design test irradiations capable of deconvoluting the myriad effects of burnup, temperature gradients, and other factors inherent to integral irradiation tests. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed an experimental capability to perform separate effects irradiation testing of miniature fuel specimens in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR): the “MiniFuel” irradiation vehicle. The small size (<4 mm3) of the fuel specimens simplifies the design, analysis, and post-irradiation examination. By reducing the fuel mass, the total heat generated inside the experiment vehicle can be dominated by gamma heating in the structural materials instead of fission heating in the fuel. This essentially decouples the fuel temperature from the fission rate, allowing for highly accelerated testing (3X-18X the burnup rate of a typical light water reactor for 235U enrichments varying from 0.22 wt% to 8 wt%) and an extremely flexible experiment design that can accommodate a wide range of fuel temperatures (~100 °C to >1200 °C), compositions, enrichments, and even geometries without requiring detailed analyses for each fuel variant. In conclusion, this paper summarizes the experiment design concept, evaluates potential applications for specific fuel forms, and briefly describes the first set of experiments on uranium nitride kernels that have been assembled and are currently being irradiated in the HFIR.},
doi = {10.1016/j.jnucmat.2019.151783},
journal = {Journal of Nuclear Materials},
number = C,
volume = 526,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {9}
}

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