U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Rad Revelations from Noble Metals

NPSI researchers are removing a shroud of mystery surrounding the behavior of certain metal particles in nuclear fuel. The team’s findings could improve future fuel designs for more efficient and safe production of nuclear energy.

In a recent experiment, researchers connected tellurium-containing particles in uranium dioxide fuel to the subsequent formation and rupture of high-pressure gas bubbles. Ruptures can damage the fuel and its protective outer layer known as cladding. The findings are detailed in a research paper featured on the cover of the March 21 edition of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

The team’s experiment was sponsored by PNNL’s Nuclear Process Science Initiative (NPSI). The research is the latest in a series of NPSI-funded inquiries that have produced insights about noble metal phase (NMP) particle behavior in nuclear fuel during reactor operations.

“NPSI’s work is dramatically adding to the body of information about noble metal phase particles,” contends Jon Schwantes. He leads NPSI's nuclear security research focus and is lead author for the recent journal paper.

To read more about the latest experiment and previous inquiries, see the PNNL research highlight.

About the image:

This graphical representation of actual images shows an NMP particle (orange) that has been propelled into the zirconium cladding (red). Immediately surrounding the particle are a high concentration of uranium (green), with a trail of uranium (yellow) present at lower concentrations. The graphic was created by PNNL’s Rose Perry and appears on the cover of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.  See Jon M. Schwantes et al, pp 6086-6099. Image reproduced by permission of Battelle Memorial Institute from Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2020. 22. 6086.

 

 

 

 

This graphical representation of actual images shows an NMP particle (orange) that has been propelled into the zirconium cladding (red). Immediately surrounding the particle are a high concentration of uranium (green) and a trail of uranium (yellow) present at lower concentrations. The graphic was created by PNNL’s Rose Perry and appears on the cover of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

See Jon M. Schwantes et al, pp 6086-6099. Image reproduced by permission of Battelle Memorial Institute from Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2020. 22. 6086.

| Pacific Northwest National Laboratory