A program is being conducted to develop a process for cladding tungsten and tungsten cermet fuels with tungsten deposited from the vapor state by the hydrogen reduction of tungsten hexafluoride. Early work was performed using recrystallized, high purity, commercial tungsten as the substrate material. Temperatures in the range 660 to 12950F (350 to 1700°C) and pressures from 10 to 350 mm Hg were investigated. Hydrogen to WF 6 ratios of 10: 1 to 150: 1 were utilized. Efforts were directed toward optimizing deposition process parameters to attain control of qualities such as coating thickness, uniformity, density, impurity content, and surface quality. Substrate penetration methods have been investigated in the interest of completely eliminating the interface between the fueled substrate and cladding. In addition, the effects of process parameters and post-cladding heat treatments on the fuel retention properties of clad composites at 4500 degrees F (2480 degrees C) in hydrogen for 2 hours have been evaluated. As a result of work performed during the first phase of the program it has been shown that the rate of deposition of tungsten from WF 6 and the uniformity of the deposit can be varied in a predictable and reproducible manner by exercising control over the temperature, pressure, and gas flow rates at which the deposits are produced. A significant result of the study is the discovery that substrate nucleation and epitaxial growth in deposits made on both unfueled tungsten and fueled substrates may be effected by pretreating the substrates in hydrogen. High temperature fuel retention testing of tungsten clad W-U02 at 45000F (2480 degrees C) in hydrogen for 2 hours has demonstrated that the vapor deposited layer effectively and consistently restricts fuel loss.
The use of uranium oxide fuel and the dispensing with metallic fuel elements in the Hanford production reactors have been contemplated in the past but have not been examined in any detail. This report reviews the technical feasibility of using oxide fuel and discusses the reactor limitations and changes in plutonium and isotope production. These results are based on preliminary calculations and a research and development program would be required to establish the validity of the calculated values. The research and development program is estimated to require $3.6 million over a three-year period. Technical aspects of using oxide are discussed in general for N, K, and the smaller reactors. The variations in uranium-to-graphite weight ratio and operating conditions vary the limitations encountered with each reactor type with an oxide fuel cycle. Plutonium separation and uranium oxide recycle on site have been examined, and a technical review of the limitations and the additional process requirements are presented.