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Title: FABRICATION PROCESS AND PRODUCT QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS IN ADVANCED GAS REACTOR UCO KERNELS

A major element of the Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) program is developing fuel fabrication processes to produce high quality uranium-containing kernels, TRISO-coated particles and fuel compacts needed for planned irradiation tests. The goals of the AGR program also include developing the fabrication technology to mass produce this fuel at low cost. Kernels for the first AGR test (“AGR-1) consisted of uranium oxycarbide (UCO) microspheres that werre produced by an internal gelation process followed by high temperature steps tot convert the UO3 + C “green” microspheres to first UO2 + C and then UO2 + UCx. The high temperature steps also densified the kernels. Babcock and Wilcox (B&W) fabricated UCO kernels for the AGR-1 irradiation experiment, which went into the Advance Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory in December 2006. An evaluation of the kernel process following AGR-1 kernel production led to several recommendations to improve the fabrication process. These recommendations included testing alternative methods of dispersing carbon during broth preparation, evaluating the method of broth mixing, optimizing the broth chemistry, optimizing sintering conditions, and demonstrating fabrication of larger diameter UCO kernels needed for the second AGR irradiation test. Based on these recommendations and requirements, a test program was definedmore » and performed. Certain portions of the test program were performed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), while tests at larger scale were performed by B&W. The tests at B&W have demonstrated improvements in both kernel properties and process operation. Changes in the form of carbon black used and the method of mixing the carbon prior to forming kernels led to improvements in the phase distribution in the sintered kernels, greater consistency in kernel properties, a reduction in forming run time, and simplifications to the forming process. Process parameter variation tests in both forming and sintering steps led to an increased understanding of the acceptable ranges for process parameters and additional reduction in required operating times. Another result of this test program was to double the kernel production rate. Following the development tests, approximately 40 kg of natural uranium UCO kernels have been produced for use in coater scale up tests, and approximately 10 kg of low enriched uranium UCO kernels for use in the AGR-2 experiment.« less
Authors:
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
940051
Report Number(s):
INL/CON-08-14411
TRN: US0806968
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC07-99ID-13727
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: 4th International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology,Washington DC,09/28/2008,10/01/2008
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Sponsoring Org:
DOE - NE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; CARBON; CARBON BLACK; CHEMISTRY; ENRICHED URANIUM; FABRICATION; GELATION; IRRADIATION; KERNELS; MICROSPHERES; NATURAL URANIUM; OXYCARBIDES; REACTOR TECHNOLOGY; SINTERING; TEST REACTORS; TESTING; URANIUM NGNP fuel; UCO fabrication