Incorporation of Integral Fuel Burnable Absorbers Boron and Gadolinium into Zirconium-Alloy Fuel Clad Material

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Long-lived fuels require the use of higher enrichments of 235U or other fissile materials. Such high levels of fissile material lead to excessive fuel activity at the beginning of life. To counteract this excessive activity, integral fuel burnable absorbers (IFBA) are added to some rods in the fuel assembly. The two commonly used IFBA elements are gadolinium, which is added as gadolinium-oxide to the UO2 powder, and boron, which is applied as a zirconium-diboride coating on the UO2 pellets using plasma spraying or chemical vapor deposition techniques. The incorporation of IFBA into the fuel has to be performed in a ... continued below

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Sridharan, K.; Renk, T.J.; Lahoda, E.J. & Corradini, M.L December 14, 2004.

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  • Sandia National Laboratories
    Publisher Info: Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM (United States)
    Place of Publication: Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Long-lived fuels require the use of higher enrichments of 235U or other fissile materials. Such high levels of fissile material lead to excessive fuel activity at the beginning of life. To counteract this excessive activity, integral fuel burnable absorbers (IFBA) are added to some rods in the fuel assembly. The two commonly used IFBA elements are gadolinium, which is added as gadolinium-oxide to the UO2 powder, and boron, which is applied as a zirconium-diboride coating on the UO2 pellets using plasma spraying or chemical vapor deposition techniques. The incorporation of IFBA into the fuel has to be performed in a nuclear-regulated facility that is physically separated from the main plant. These operations tend to be very costly because of their small volume and can add from 20 to 30% to the manufacturing cost of the fuel. Other manufacturing issues that impact cost and performance are maintaining the correct levels of dosing, the reduction in fuel melting point due to gadolinium-oxide additions, and parasitic neutron absorption at fuel's end-of-life. The goal of the proposed research is to develop an alternative approach that involves incorporation of boron or gadolinium into the outer surface of the fuel cladding material rather than as an additive to the fuel pellets. This paradigm shift will allow for the introduction of the IFBA in a non-nuclear regulated environment and will obviate the necessity of additional handling and processing of the fuel pellets. This could represent significant cost savings and potentially lead to greater reproducibility and control of the burnable fuel in the early stages of the reactor operation. The surface alloying is being performed using the IBEST (Ion Beam Surface Treatment) process developed at Sandia National Laboratories. IBEST involves the delivery of energetic ion beam pulses onto the surface of a material, near-surface melting, and rapid solidification. The non-equilibrium nature of such processing allows for surface alloying well in excess of the thermodynamically dictated solubility limits, an effect that is particularly relevant to this research due to the negligible solubility of boron and gadolinium in zirconium. University of Wisconsin is performing the near surface materials characterization and analysis, aiding Sandia in process optimization, and promoting educational activities. Westinghouse is performing process manufacturability and scale-up analysis and is performing autoclave testing of the surface treated samples. The duration of this NERI project is 2 years, from 9/2002 to 9/2004.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00835075

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  • Report No.: NONE
  • Grant Number: FG07-02SF22617
  • DOI: 10.2172/835075 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 835075
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc782448

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  • December 14, 2004

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Jan. 3, 2017, 4:40 p.m.

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Sridharan, K.; Renk, T.J.; Lahoda, E.J. & Corradini, M.L. Incorporation of Integral Fuel Burnable Absorbers Boron and Gadolinium into Zirconium-Alloy Fuel Clad Material, report, December 14, 2004; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc782448/: accessed September 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.