Seven Years of Uranium Alloy Development at Weldon Spring, 1959/1966. Page: 29 of 47
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be useful. For instance, while the same compounds exist over a considerable
region of the quaternary system, should we assume that the precipitate size and
stability does not vary with the proportions of the alloy additives? The' choice
of alloy compositions for precipitate formation has been largely intuitive and
by no means represents the best alloy combination to give the precipitate system
of optimum fineness and most resistant to agglomeration.
The UAl2 precipitate deserves further study. In fact,, a more authoritative
identification of the actual composition of the dispersoid in the' matr-ix would
be quite desirable. It would be profitable to learn at what level of aluminum
addition this dispersoid is formed and whether the major portion of the 800 ppm
normally employed is truly beneficial in providing precipitates of critical size.
There is a general family of uranium intermetallic compounds which can be given
the general formula of U8M which may deserve more extensive investigation than
has been expended so far. With this ratio of the added metal to uranium in the
atomic- sense, there could be the possibility of using elements that are less
favorable for neutron economy than we.have been willing to try so far. There
seems every reason to believe, for instance; that U5Ni should be formed in a
similar fashion to UeFe; but we have no knowledge whether the precipitate size
is the same, whether its stability is the same, whether'it agglJomerates as
readily, or even whether the total quantity ,of precipitate necessary for the
same effect is anywhere near equivalent; It seems desirable to scan the
compounds that are eligible in this formula to'learn whether a more favorable
precipitate may not be available than is offered'by iron.
The general subject of dispersoids deserves careful attention, and it seems
desirable to scan the behavior of a wide assortment of compounds, including
carbides, nitrides, oxides, phosphides, etc., in the hope of finding a distri-
bution and a particle size that will remain unchanged under neutron bombardment
and during heating in the high alpha temperature range. The drawbacks of the
precipitates that have been employed so far lie in their susceptability to
solution and/or agglomeration as temperatures are approached in the high alpha
range. From this'point of view, a system might be much more favorable that
would provide complete solubility in the gamma phase and reject the appropriate
compound on transforming to the beta, hopefully to remain unchanged in size and
distribution in the alpha phase.
The possibility of using a fertile material (in the nuclear sense) as a
compound-former for a dispersoid seems worth examining. The probability of"
success in this area may not be high,'but if a compound could'be used which
would provide a useful isotope from irradition, there would be an added
incentive for its utilization. ' The analogy 'here in non-reactor materials is
the remarkably strengthened form of nickel' known "as*TD nickel, which has a
dispersion of ThO2 throughout its matrix. Undeniably, one of the problems of
finding a similar system for uranium is the remarkable degree to which compounds
of many sorts are soluble in uranium metal which, for- this purpose, -would be an
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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/m1/29/: accessed March 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.