Prof. Michael Preuss (University of Manchester, UK)

The Long Journey of Understanding Degraduation Mechanisms in Zr-based Nuclear Fuel Cladding
When Jan 30, 2017
from 02:00 PM to 03:00 PM
Where LR8
Contact Name
Contact Phone 01865-283446
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In water-cooled reactors zirconium alloys have been the material of choice for fuel assemblies due to a combination of low neutron cross-section, excellent corrosion performance and good mechanical properties. However, fuel cladding performance, or our ability to predict its performance, remains the limiting factor in an effort to push for increased fuel burnup, i.e. the energy extracted from a fuel assembly before it is removed from the core. As the UK is expected to get a large fleet of civil light water reactors for the first time, it is important to develop an understanding that will enable us to optimise fuel assembly performance, maximise burnup while minimising fuel failures. During the last decade Zr cladding research in the UK has grown from almost not existent into a thriving world leading activity. During my presentation I will focus on progress we have made in understanding the effect of alloying elements on aqueous corrosion performance, hydrogen pick-up and irradiation damage in Zr-alloys while also highlighting the many remaining gaps in understanding. I will present results of detailed studies using a multiscale characterisation approach by employing diffraction and scattering techniques as well as novel electron microscopy techniques. These techniques have been employed to investigate in detail the oxide grown during autoclave testing or during in-reactor service and to characterise irradiation damage formed during accelerated proton irradiation to compare with neutron irradiated material. While state-of-the-art characterisation tools now allow us to make new observations and rethink previously proposed mechanisms, it is also clear that more modelling efforts are required in the future to fully explain the experimental observations.