Advanced microstructural characterization techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and scanning transmission electron microscopy - energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (STEM-EDS), were used to interpret the fuel microstructure evolution and fission products behavior in U-Mo dispersion fuel irradiated in the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) as part of the European Mini-Plate Irradiation Experiment (EMPIrE) test. The larger as-fabricated fuel grain size achieved by heat-treating the U-Mo powder resulted in slower high burnup structure (HBS) development and reduced fission gas porosity. Slower HBS kinetics was observed at the fuel kernels’ periphery, which contained smaller and less fission gas bubbles at all fission densities (FDs) investigated and was attributed to a locally reduced damage density and fission products concentration, as corroborated with Monte Carlo simulations. The non-refined grains at the fuel kernel periphery hosted a perfectly ordered fission Gas Bubble Superlattice (GBS) up to 6.3 × 1021 fissions/cm3. Nano-scale STEM-EDS analysis presented in this study provided useful information on the GBS characteristic morphology and evolution in U-Mo fuel. The concentration of fission gas in the GBS progressively increased with FD, pointing to an evolution of the nanobubble pressure status with irradiation. A possible connection between the GBS collapse and HBS onset is proposed for which there exists a threshold in the misorientation of the refined sub-grains above which the GBS stability during irradiation is no longer preserved, resulting in the GBS collapse.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering