Crystallographic study of Si and ZrN coated U-Mo atomised particles and of their interaction with al under thermal annealing

T. Zweifel, H. Palancher, A. Leenaers, A. Bonnin, V. Honkimaki, R. Tucoulou, S. Van Den Berghe, R. Jungwirth, F. Charollais, W. Petry

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A new type of high density fuel is needed for the conversion of research and test reactors from high to lower enriched uranium. The most promising one is a dispersion of atomized uranium-molybdenum (U-Mo) particles in an Al matrix. However, during in-pile irradiation the growth of an interaction layer between the U-Mo and the Al matrix strongly limits the fuel's performance. To improve the in-pile behaviour, the U-Mo particles can be coated with protective layers. The SELENIUM (Surface Engineering of Low ENrIched Uranium-Molybdenum) fuel development project consists of the production, irradiation and post-irradiation examination of 2 flat, full-size dispersion fuel plates containing respectively Si and ZrN coated U-Mo atomized powder dispersed in a pure Al matrix. In this paper X-ray diffraction analyses of the Si and ZrN layers after deposition, fuel plate manufacturing and thermal annealing are reported. It was found for the U-Mo particles coated with ZrN (thickness 1 μm), that the layer is crystalline, and exhibits lower density than the theoretical one. Fuel plate manufacturing does not strongly influence these crystallographic features. For the U-Mo particles coated with Si (thickness 0.6 μm), the measurements of the as received material suggest an amorphous state of the deposited layer. Fuel plate manufacturing strongly modifies its composition: Si reacts with the U-Mo particles and the Al matrix to grow U(Al, Si)3 and U 3Si5 phases. Finally both coatings have shown excellent performances under thermal treatment by limiting drastically the U-Mo/Al interdiffusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-132
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2013


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