Seven Years of Uranium Alloy Development at Weldon Spring, 1959/1966. Page: 10 of 47
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. . . . . . . . . . .._ U N c L A : FR E D
SEVEN YEARS OF URANIUM ALLOY DEVELOPMENT
AT WELDON SPRING - 1959/1966
John A. Fellows
Early experiences are described in fuel core production and
irradiation which led to the need to discover a means of refining
the grain size of beta-quenched uranium metal. Initial success with
empirical choices of dilute alloy additions was followed by evidence
that actual control was vested in the provision for a critical
dispersion of sub-microscopic precipitates of such intermetallic
compounds as U8Fe, U3Si, and UAl. Appropriate precipitation prior
to beta-quenching was not only effective for conventional fuel core
processing but offered the possibility of refinement of structures
cooled from the gamma phase either as extrusions or as both heavy-
and light-walled castings. Extensive investigation of the
quarternary constitutional diagram of U-Fe-Si-Al with metallographic
and electron probe techniques, defined mutual solid solubility limits
between the elements and the compounds but revealed no major
differences in compound makeup in comparing binary, ternary, and
quarternary systems. X-ray diffraction techniques were improved and
refined to disclose the existence of texture gradients in alloyed
uranium fuel cores and the response of such gradients to refined
methods of heat treatment. Mechanical and physical properties of
diverse alloys were measured to examine the variation in strength
and hardness with temperature in the hope of finding a correlation
with behavior during in-pile irradiation. Isothermal dilatometric
studies of phase transformation revealed the differences in mode of
beta-to-alpha phase change at different alpha temperatures as
influenced by the level and type of alloy addition. Comparisons of
such TTT data with texture measurements and irradiation tests
suggested that the ideal core structure would be achieved by
transformation at the nose of the upper "C" of the TTT diagram.
Transmission electron microscope studies disclosed the size and
shape of initial precipitates and defined the modes of metallic flow
during tension testing as influenced by temperature. Efforts to
achieve thin-foil samples suitable for observation of dislocation
motion under mechanical and thermal stress in the hope of gaining an
understanding of cavitational swelling did not meet with success in
the brief time available for this project.
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Fellows, J. A. Seven Years of Uranium Alloy Development at Weldon Spring, 1959/1966., report, January 1, 1966; Weldon Spring, Missouri. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1033773/m1/10/: accessed March 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.