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Title: Assessment of semi-empirical potentials for the U-Si system

Accident tolerant fuels (ATF) are being developed in response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan. One of the options being pursued is U-Si fuels, such as the U3Si2 and U3Si5 compounds, which benefit from high thermal conductivity (metallic) compared to the UO2 fuel (semi-conductor) used in current Light Water Reactors (LWRs). The U-Si fuels also have higher fissile density. In order to perform meaningful engineering scale nuclear fuel performance simulations, the material properties of the fuel, including the response to irradiation environments, must be known. Unfortunately, the data available for U-Si fuels are rather limited, in particular for the temperature range where LWRs would operate. The ATF HIP is using multi-scale modeling and simulations to address this knowledge gap. Even though Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations can provide useful answers to a subset of problems, they are computationally too costly for many others, including properties governing microstructure evolution and irradiation effects. For the latter, semi-empirical potentials are typically used. Unfortunately, there is currently no potential for the U-Si system. In this brief report we present initial results from the development of a U-Si semi-empirical potential based on the Modified Embedded Atom Method (MEAM). The potential should reproduce relevant partsmore » of the U-Si phase diagram as well as defect properties important in irradiation environments. This work also serves as an assessment of the general challenges associated with the U-Si system, which will be valuable for the efforts to develop a U-Si Tersoff potential undertaken by Idaho National Laboratory (also part of the ATF HIP). Going forward the main potential development activity will reside at INL and the work presented here is meant to provide input data and guidelines for that activity. The main focus of our work is on the U3Si2 and U3Si5 compounds, because they are the main nuclear fuel candidates. U3Si5 is derived from USi2 in the AlB2 structure by creating 1/6 vacant sites on Si sublattice. The ordering of these vacancies will not be studied in any detail here.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1237245
Report Number(s):
LA--UR-15-26949
TRN: US1600298
DOE Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; ACCIDENT-TOLERANT NUCLEAR FUELS; URANIUM SILICIDES; POTENTIALS; WATER MODERATED REACTORS; URANIUM DIOXIDE; DENSITY FUNCTIONAL METHOD; ALUMINIUM BORIDES; PHASE DIAGRAMS; THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY; EVALUATION; COST; IRRADIATION; WATER COOLED REACTORS; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; DENSITY; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; DEFECTS; TIME DEPENDENCE; MICROSTRUCTURE; PERFORMANCE