Nuclear Engineering and Technology
Spark plasma sintering of UO2 fuel composite with Gd2O3 integral fuel burnable absorber
Papynov E.K., Shichalin O.O., Belov A.A., Portnyagin A.S., Buravlev I.Yu., Mayorov V.Yu., Sukhorada A.E., Gridasova E.A., Nomerovskiy A.D., Glavinskaya V.O., Tananaev I.G., Sergienko V.I.

The paper studies spark plasma sintering (SPS) of industrially used UO2-based fuel containing integral fuel burnable absorber (IFBA) of neutrons Gd2O3. Densification dynamics of pristine UO2 powder and the one added with 2 and 8 wt% of Gd2O3 under ultrasonication in liquid has been studied under SPS conditions at 1050, 1250, and 1450 °C. Effect of sintering temperature on phase composition as well as on O/U stoichiometry has been investigated for UO2 SPS ceramics. Sintering of uranium dioxide added with Gd2O3 yields solid solution (U,Gd)O2, which is isostructural to UO2. SEM with EDX and metallography were implemented to analyze the microstructure of the obtained UO2 ceramics and composite UO2-Gd2O3 one, particularly, open porosity, defects, and Gd2O3 distribution were studied. Microhardness, compressive strength and density were shown to reduce after addition of Gd2O3. Obtained results prove the hypothesis on formation of stable pores in the system of UO2-Gd2O3 due to Kirkendall effect that reduces sintering efficiency. The paper expands fundamental knowledge on pros and cons of fuel fabrication with IFBA using SPS technology.

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