Surface engineering of low enriched uranium–molybdenum

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Recent attempts to qualify the LEU(Mo) dispersion plate fuel with Si addition to the Al matrix up to high power and burn-up have not yet been successful due to unacceptable fuel plate swelling at a local burnup above 60% 235U. The root cause of the failures is clearly related directly to the formation of the U(Mo)– Al(Si) interaction layer. Excessive formation of these layers around the fuel kernels severely weakens the local mechanical integrity and eventually leads to pillowing of the plate. In 2008, SCKCEN has launched the SELENIUM U(Mo) dispersion fuel development project in an attempt to find an alternative way to reduce the interaction between U(Mo) fuel kernels and the Al matrix to a significantly low level: by applying a coating on the U(Mo) kernels. Two fuel plates containing 8gU/cc U(Mo) coated with respectively 600 nm Si and 1000 nm ZrN in a pure Al matrix were manufactured. These plates were irradiated in the BR2 reactor up to a maximum heat flux of 470 W/cm2 until a maximum local burn-up of approximately 70% 235U was reached. Awaiting the PIE results, the advantages of applying a coating are discussed in this paper through annealing experiments and TRIM calculations.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-228
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


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ID: 159575