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  1. Uranium silicides, in particular U 3Si 2, are being explored as an advanced nuclear fuel with increased accident tolerance as well as competitive economics compared to the baseline UO 2 fuel. Here we use density functional theory calculations and thermochemical analysis to assess the stability of U 3Si 2 with respect to non-stoichiometry reactions in both the hypo- and hyper-stoichiometric regimes. We find that the degree of non-stoichiometry in U 3Si 2 is much smaller than in UO 2 and at most reaches a few percent at high temperature. Non-stoichiometry impacts fuel performance by determining whether the loss of uraniummore » due to fission leads to a non-stoichiometric U 3Si 2±x phase or precipitation of a second U-Si phase. Lastly, we also investigate the U 5Si 4 phase as a candidate for the equilibrium phase diagram.« less
  2. In this study, the design and development of an economical, accident tolerant fuel (ATF) for use in the current light water reactor (LWR) fleet is highly desirable for the future of nuclear power. Uranium mononitride has been identified as an alternative fuel with higher uranium density and thermal conductivity when compared to the benchmark, UO 2, which could also provide significant economic benefits. However, UN by itself reacts with water at reactor operating temperatures. In order to reduce its reactivity, the addition of UO 2 to UN has been suggested. In order to avoid carbon impurities, UN was synthesized frommore » elemental uranium using a hydride-dehydride-nitride thermal synthesis route prior to mixing with up to 10 wt% UO 2 in a planetary ball mill. UN and UN – UO 2 composite pellets were sintered in Ar – (0–1 at%) N 2 to study the effects of nitrogen concentration on the evolved phases and microstructure. UN and UN-UO 2 composite pellets were also sintered in Ar – 100 ppm N 2 to assess the effects of temperature (1700–2000 °C) on the final grain morphology and phase concentration.« less

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