3D reconstructions of irradiated U7Mo fuel to understand breaching effects in ZrN diffusion barriers

Brandon D. Miller, Dennis D. Keiser, Muhammad Abir, Assel Aitkaliyeva, Ann Leenaers, Brandon J. Hernandez, Wouter Van Renterghem, Alexander Winston

Research outputpeer-review


To understand interaction layer behavior in UeMo fuel kernels coated with physical vapor deposition (PVD) ZrN barriers, two cubes of irradiated fuel were serial sectioned and imaged in 50 and 200 nm increments using a focused ion beam (FIB) instrument. Locally, the fuel underwent a burnup of 52% U235 or a fission density of 4.0 1021 fissions/cm3. 3D reconstructions were created from the serial sectioned images. 3D reconstructions revealed the morphology of multiple locations where UeMo/Al interaction layer formed between the Al matrix and the UeMo fuel. These locations are associated with breaches in the ZrN barrier and not from diffusion of Al through the ZrN barrier. When not compromised, the ZrN barrier successfully impedes UeMo fuel interaction with Al cladding. The ZrN barrier has decreased from a nominal pre-irradiated thickness of 1.16 mm to a thickness of 0.69 mm. A ZrN-rich phase adjacent to the ZrN barrier was observed on the Al matrix side of the coating. This phase is likely the original ZrN barrier and Al matrix that decomposed with increasing burnup as a result of fission recoil induced mixing. Nominally, the thickness of the irradiated ZrN barrier and the ZrN-rich Al matrix is 1.36 mm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-436
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2018

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