The Manufacture and Characterisation of Composite Nuclear Fuel for Improved In-reactor Performance

UoM administered thesis: Phd


Fuel for nuclear reactors with an increased thermal conductivity offers the potential for lower fuel operating temperatures and reduced fission gas release rates. Uranium dioxide (UO2) based composites offer a method of achieving a higher thermal conductivity. Silicon carbide (SiC) and molybdenum (Mo) have been identified as potential candidates for use in a composite fuel material. Uranium dioxide composites were manufactured with the inclusion of whiskers and granules of SiC up to a 30 vol% loading. The manufacturing route used was based on the current process employed to commercially manufacture UO2 fuel, by reductive sintering. Composites containing Mo were manufactured via spark plasma sintering and included loadings of up to 10 vol% Mo. The composites were characterised on their microstructural properties and where appropriate the thermal conductivity was determined by laser flash analysis. The composites containing SiC achieved low densities, 95%TD. The microstructure contained channel like structures of Mo, due to the use of an agglomerated UO2 precursor powder. An increased thermal conductivity was determined for the molybdenum composites. At the maximum measurement temperature of 800°C the increase was found to be 68% in the 10 vol% composites compared to UO2.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Aug 2017