Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Travis W Knight

Abstract

The feasibility of using very high temperature reactors (VHTR) as part of the next generation of nuclear reactors greatly depends on the tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) fuel particles reliability to retain both gaseous and metallic fission products created in irradiated UO2. Most research devoted to TRISO fuel particles has focused on the characteristics and retention ability of silicon carbide as the main barrier against metallic fission products. This work investigates the deposition parameters necessary to create advanced TRISO particles consisting of the standard SiC TRISO coatings with an additional layer of ZrC applied directly to the UO2 fuel kernel. The additional ZrC layer will act as an oxygen getter to prevent failure mechanisms experienced in TRISO particles. Two failure mechanisms that are of the most concern are the over pressurization of the particles and kernel migration within the TRISO particles. In this study successful ZrC coatings were created and the deposition characteristics were analyzed via optical and SEM microscopy techniques. The ZrC layer was confirmed through XRD analysis. This investigation also reduced U3O8 microspheres to UO2 in an argon atmosphere. The oxygen to metal ratio from the reduced U3O8 was back calculated from oxidation analysis performed with a TGA machine. Once consistent repeatability is shown with coating surrogate zirconia kernels, advanced TRISO coatings will be deposited on the UO2 fuel kernels.

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