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Workshop / Seminar

MME Seminar: Computational Design of Alloy Chemistry in Uranium-based Metallic Fuels

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About the event

Presented by Dr. Samrat Choudhury, Assistant Professor, University of Idaho, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Metallic fuel systems, e.g. U-Zr and U-Pu-Zr, are attractive fuels for advanced nuclear reactor concepts, such as the advanced sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) as these fuels exhibit high thermal conductivity, proliferation resistance, excellent compatibility with the sodium coolant, and in some configurations inherent safety. One performance limitation of metallic fuel is the chemical interaction between the lanthanide fission products and the cladding material, termed as fuel-cladding-chemical-interactions (FCCI). The results of FCCI are the thinning and weakening of the cladding wall, limiting the performance of fuels. In general, dopant addition to the fuel matrix to arrest lanthanides within the fuel by forming intermetallic is found to be effective in mitigating FCCI. However, there is lack of generic principles to choose appropriate dopant(s) that can be effective in arresting lanthanides. Here, we present ab-initio based thermodynamic alloy design principles which can be effective in identifying dopant(s) that can bind a lanthanide inside the fuel-matrix. We showed that these alloy design principles can accurately identify previously known dopants like Pd, and also predict new dopants As and Se, that can be effective in binding all lanthanides within the uranium matrix.  We verify the theoretically predicted novel dopants by characterizing cast alloys of lanthanides and dopant(s) within the U-matrix. Similarly, these alloy design principles were adopted to avoid precipitation in U-Mo based metallic fuel, a candidate low‐enriched uranium fuel for use in United States High Performance Research Reactors.  Overall, this research helps to develop generic alloy-design principles for complex multi-component systems based on simple elemental characteristics.