Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Nicholas Roberts


Nicholas Roberts


Ling Liu


Tadd Truscott


Zirconium carbide (ZrC) has been proposed as a potential improvement to nuclear fuel cladding. As such, it is important to characterize its physical properties, particularly those relating to thermal energy transport. Reactor conditions are known to damage fuel microstructure over time. While research has been conducted on undamaged and damaged ZrC, some areas of interest remain. Fission products, such as helium, can accumulate in pores within the fuel microstructure. Such a case has yet to be characterized in ZrC fuel cladding.

A non-equilibrium molecular dynamics model was developed to characterize the thermal properties of ZrC. Fourier’s Law allows the thermal conductivity of ZrC to be determined based on the relationship between heat flux and temperature gradient. The thermal conductivity of an undamaged ZrC lattice is compared to the thermal conductivity of a damaged lattice. The values of thermal conductivity demonstrating the impact of damage from pores and helium-filled pores are reported.