Understanding the Corrosion and Degradation of Nuclear Fuel Materials

Start Date
16-03-2020 10:00
End Date
16-03-2020 11:00
Room 500 - 501, Central Building
Speaker's name
Speaker's institute
University of Bristol
Contact name
Eleanor Ryan
Host name
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Nuclear power provides a ready and reliable solution for the challenge of meeting increasing global energy demands while decreasing carbon dioxide emission. Though UO2 is the most widely used nuclear fuel material at present, UN and U3Si2 are being considered for next generation of reactors. The higher U density and thermal conductivity of these materials provide both safety and economic advantages, however, there are concerns regarding oxidation behaviour and lack of understanding of fundamental properties. Novel thin films of epitaxial UN and U2N3 have been synthesised to provide highly versatile, idealised samples that are well suited for investigations into such properties.

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and anisotropic resonant scattering have shown the mixed bonding present in U2N3, highlighting the differences between UN and U2N3. Investigations into UN oxidation have shown the passivating effect of the surface oxide layer with the formation of a U2N3 interlayer. The influence of radiation on corrosion has also been considered, with investigations comparing the effect of H2O2, mimicking radiolytic products, on UN, U2N3, and UO2. The surprising corrosion resistance of UN shows that this is an exciting area of research for further exploration. An in-situ investigation of the corrosion mechanism is planned using synchrotron radiation both as a probe and a source to drive radiolytic corrosion. Building on this, I plan to take a step closer to realistic scenarios by extending this work to bulk samples of uranium silicides, oxides, and nitrides, improving the understanding of the corrosion products and mechanisms of next generation fuels.

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