An atomistic study of grain boundaries and surfaces in gamma U-Mo
B Beeler and YF Zhang and YP Gao, JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, 507, 248-257 (2018).
A monolithic fuel design based on a U-Mo alloy has been selected as the fuel type for conversion of the United States High-Performance Research Reactors (HPRRs). A 2015 post-irradiation examination (PIE) report showed accelerated swelling in U-10Mo fuels at fission densities much lower than previously observed. This PIE report showed a large amount of compositional banding, or regions of low Mo content adjacent to regions of high Mo content, with low Mo content typically along grain boundaries. Lower Mo content can lead to phase decomposition from the gamma U-Mo body-centered cubic phase to the alpha U phase as well as an earlier onset of recrystallization. Thus, the phenomenon of Mo depletion at grain boundaries is an important factor in the accelerated swelling behavior of U-Mo fuel. However, the physical origin of Mo depletion at grain boundaries is still unclear. In this work, molecular dynamics simulations have been performed to calculate the grain boundary and surface energies of body-centered cubic (bcc) U, bcc Mo and alloys of U-Mo from 600 K to 1200 K. It is observed that the lower grain boundary energy of bcc U, compared to bcc Mo, provides the driving force for Mo depletion at grain boundaries. This driving force diminishes with increasing temperature, but is not eliminated. This information can be utilized as inputs to higher length scale modeling methodologies and provide specification guidance to fabricators. Published by Elsevier B.V.
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