ZrN coating as diffusion barrier in U(Mo) dispersion fuel systems

Research outputpeer-review


The control of the interaction between the U(Mo) fuel phase and the Al matrix is one of the challenges of dispersion fuel plate development for research reactors. Given the specific properties of this interaction layer, larger amounts of it in the meat could lead to a reduction of the plate mechanical integrity and thermal conductivity, eventually leading to pillowing. The SELENIUM project showed that by depositing a ZrN coating on the surface of the U(Mo) fuel particles, the amount of formed U(Mo)-Al interaction layer is limited but still present. Microstructural analysis performed on the as fabricated coating and fresh fuel plates containing ZrN coated U(Mo) dispersed in an Al matrix, revealed that the coating gets damaged during plate production. The post irradiation examinations (PIE) of the ZrN coated U(Mo) fuel plates, from the SELENIUM and SEMPER FIDELIS experiments, show how the U(Mo)-Al interaction layer is formed - only at those locations where the coating is missing or damaged - and the evolution of coating microstructure during irradiation. As a remedy, to further reduce the amount of interaction layer formed, the use of an Al-Si matrix was proposed based on the higher affinity of Si for U compared to the affinity of Al for U. PIE of a fuel plate consisting of ZrN coated U(Mo) dispersed in an Al-Si matrix irradiated in the SEMPER FIDELIS experiment, clearly demonstrates the benefit of adding Si to the matrix
Original languageEnglish
Article number153000
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2021

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