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Title: Non-destructive Quantitative Phase Analysis and Microstructural Characterization of Zirconium Coated U-10Mo Fuel Foils via Neutron Diffraction

This report uses neutron diffraction to investigate the crystal phase composition of uranium-molybdenum alloy foils (U-10Mo) for the CONVERT MP-1 Reactor Conversion Project and determines the effect on alpha uranium contamination following the deposition of a Zr metal diffusion layer by various methods: plasma spray deposition of Zr powders at LANL and hot co-rolling with Zr foils at BWXT. In summary, there is minimal decomposition of the gamma phase U-10Mo foil to alpha phase contamination following both plasma spraying and hot co-rolling. The average unit cell volume, i.e. lattice spacing, of the Zr layer can be mathematically extracted from the diffraction data; co-rolled Zr matches well with literature values of bulk Zr, while plasma sprayed Zr shows a slight increase in the lattice spacing, indicative of interstitial oxygen in the lattice. Neutron diffraction is a beneficial alternative to conventional methods of phase composition, i.e. x ray diffraction (XRD) and destructive metallography. XRD has minimal penetration depth in high atomic number materials, particularly uranium, and can only probe the first few microns of the fuel plate; neutrons pass completely through the foil, allowing for bulk analysis of the foil composition and no issues with addition of cladding layers, as in themore » final, aluminum clad reactor fuel plates. Destructive metallography requires skilled technicians, cutting of the foil into small sections, hazardous etching conditions, long polishing and microscopy times, etc.; the neutron diffraction system has an automated sample loader and can fit larger foils, so there is minimal analysis preparation; the total spectrum acquisition time is ~ 1 hour per sample. The neutron diffraction results are limited by spectra refinement/calculation times and the availability of the neutron beam source. In the case of LANSCE at Los Alamos, the beam operates ~50% of the year. Following the lessons learned from these preliminary results, optimizations to the process and analysis can be made and neutron diffraction can become a viable and efficient technique for gamma/alpha phase composition determination for nuclear fuels.« less
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  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States