Effect of sintering atmosphere on the hardness of ThO2

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The hardness and toughness of ThO2 sintered under reducing and oxidizing conditions has been investigated and, quite unexpectedly, a significant difference in hardness was observed for the entire range of porosities studied. Reducing conditions systematically yielded higher hardness values than oxidizing conditions. Extrapolated to zero porosity, the hardness for ThO2 is H0 = 10.5 ± 0.3 GPa for oxidizing conditions and H0 = 12.4 ± 0.7 GPa for reducing conditions. Toughness values have been derived from Vickers indentations; differences in toughness were insignificant and only a single value is proposed: KIC = 0.97 ± 0.12 MPa √m. The difference in hardness is attributed to the presence of point defects, also acting as color centers and causing grey coloration of ThO2 sintered under reducing conditions. Furthermore, and of interest for nuclear fuel production, is the finding that ThO2 sintered under reducing conditions is significantly easier to grind compared to material sintered under oxidizing conditions.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-227
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2016


  • Fracture-toughness, Thermodynamic porperties, Thorium-dioxide, Irradation, Fuel, Performance, Porosity, Pellets, System, Oxide

ID: 5647901