Morphological characterization of the fresh ZrN coated UMo powders used in EMPIrE irradiation experiment A practical approach

François Housaer, Florence Vanni, Matthieu Touzin, Franck Béclin, Jérôme Allenou, Ann Leenaers, Abdellatif M. Yacout, Herve Palancher, Bertrand Stepnik, Olivier Tougait

Research outputpeer-review


The European Mini-Plate Irradiation Experiment (EMPIrE) aims to test the in-pile behavior of various ZrN coated UMo powder batches, produced using different technological processes. UMo(ZrN) particles are typical core-shell systems taking advantages of a dense fissile material, UMo, with a coated ZrN layer acting as a diffusion barrier. The U-7Mo kernels were produced by centrifugal or rotating electrode atomization processes and the ZrN coating was performed by physical vapor deposition or atomic layer deposition processes. A total of ten batches of UMo(ZrN) powders were examined in the as-obtained state, i.e prior to fuel-plate fabrication and before in-pile irradiation. The present investigation gives a characterization of each powder batch mainly in terms of morphological and microstructural features carried out by means of SEM-EDS, LOM, EPMA, AFM and TEM analyses. Digital image processing using ImageJ software was employed to determine several particle size (major axis, minor axis, Feret’s diameters, and equivalent diameter) and shape (aspect ratio, circularity, convexity and concavity) parameters as well as the ZrN deposited layer thickness. The quality of the ZrN layer was examined in terms of surface roughness, grain structure and aggregated habits. Our characterization results draw a detailed
Original languageEnglish
Article number152087
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - 6 Mar 2020

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