Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Heng Ban

Abstract

Nuclear fuel characterization requires understanding of the various conditions to which materials are exposed in-reactor. One of these important conditions is corrosion, particularly that of fuel constituents. Therefore, corrosion behavior is of special interest and an essential part of nuclear materials characterization efforts. In support of the Office of Material Management and Minimization’s Reactor Conversion Program, monolithic uranium-10 wt% molybdenum alloy (UMo) is being investigated as a low enriched uranium alternative to highly enriched uranium dispersion fuel currently used in domestic high performance research reactors. The aqueous corrosion behavior of U-Mo is being examined at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as part of U-Mo fuel fabrication capability activity. No prior study adequately represents this behavior given the current state of alloy composition and thermomechanical processing methods, and research reactor water chemistry.

Two main measurement techniques were employed to evaluate U-Mo corrosion behavior. Low-temperature corrosion rate values were determined by means of U-Mo immersion testing and subsequent mass-loss measurements. The electrochemical behavior of each processing condition was also qualitatively examined using the techniques of corrosion potential and anodic potentiodynamic polarization. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and optical metallography (OM) imagery and hardness measurements provided supplemental corrosion analysis in an effort to relate material corrosion behavior to processing.

The processing effects investigated as part of this were those of homogenization heat treatment (employed to mitigate the effects of coring in castings) and sub-eutectoid heat treatment, meant to represent additional steps in fabrication (such as hot isostatic pressing) performed at similar temperatures.

Immersion mass loss measurements and electrochemical results both showed very little appreciable difference between specimens of different process parameters. Comparative results were presented as linear corrosion rates and temperature-dependent Arrhenius equations, which were then correlated with electrochemical and metallographic findings for each condition under investigation.

This thesis was prepared in the monograph style using the ASME reference format.

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