Seven Years of Uranium Alloy Development at Weldon Spring, 1959/1966. Page: 19 of 47
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dictum from Hanford that a means' of grain refinement iust be devised if dingots
were to be accepted as a potential reactor fuel, it was a somewhat startling
and most gratifying discovery to learn that the tbeta treatment of the high-iron
dingot cores yielded structures as fine as -the finest that had ever been observed
for ingot metal.3 In view of later knowledge, part of the effect was, without
doubt,. due to the nickel pickup as well; but since nickel has a less favorable
influence upon neutron reactivity in the reactor, a parallel use of this
element as an alloying addition was not considered.
On the basis of the effect on grain size seen in these two contaminated dingots,
a series of further 3300 pound bomb reductions was planned in which the
deliberate addition of an assortment of elements was scheduled, these being all
in the range of 100 to 200 ppm. These included such elements as silicon lower
levels of iron, iron plus 'aluminum, aluminum,-alone' chromium plus carbon,
molybdenum and zirconium. A sequence of special 'dingots "was also planned to
attempt a simulation of ingot chemistry involving various combinations of
carbon, iron, silicon, aluminum, nickel, and nitrogen. All alloy additions
were made to 3300-lb. dingots which were gamma extruded to-7-inch 'diameter -bar
stock and then alpha rolled into rods' at Fernald. Portions of the rods were
then returned to Weldon Spring for beta heat treatment and evaluation of
At the time of this work, there was no standard technique for measuring or
describing the grain size of a beta-quenched core;: and :the results'of "this
series of experimental heat treatments were expressed only by a qualitative
rating of structure, classifying the macrophotographs as "coarse," "medium-
coarse," "medium," or "fine" grain size. Later techniques' using ultrasonic
methods to measure the attenuation in transmitted signal caused by different
grain sizes would have been a vast assistance in this early evaluation. Had
that technique been available, it might have been possible to have arrived at
a much more quantitative relationship between composition and structure. The
qualitative rating, however, served its purpose in selecting a favorable
combination of alloy additions.
Of the first group of twelve experimental dingots, all were medium-coarse or
coarse in grain size except two. One of these contained 150 ppm.of
chromium and a rating of medium grain size; the other analyzed 140 'ppm iron,
100 ppm silicon, and showed a fine grain size. Those dingots with carbon
additions to simulate ingot chemistry were rated only as medium-coarse.
Further combinations'of the more'fruitful elements were then planned plus
additional dingots to which new additives were to 'be tried, such as 'bismuth-
niobium, titanium, vanadium, zirconium, etc.44
A second lot of additive dingots comprising three with Fe-Si additions, three
with C-Fe-Al additives, one with C-Fe, one with Si, one with Zr, one with Mo,,
one with Si-Al, and one with Al, gave a complete range-of structures. The
Fe-Si compositions were consistently fine grained.' The Al composition
(~"'100 ppm) was definitely coarse, and the others ranged from medium to medium-
coarse. Si was perhaps the most attractive single addition and Ho the least
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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/m1/19/: accessed March 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.