Title: Melting point determination of uranium nitride and uranium plutonium nitride: A laser heating study
Citation: JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS vol. 449 p. 1 - 8
Publication Year: 2014
JRC N°: JRC80916
ISSN: 0022-3115
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002231151400083X
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnucmat.2014.02.021
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Understanding of the behaviour of nuclear material in extreme conditions is essential for the analyses of the operation limits of nuclear fuels, and prediction of possible nuclear reaction accidents. In this context, the high temperature behaviour of uranium nitride and mixed uranium–plutonium nitrides has been studied in the present work by laser heating under controlled atmosphere coupled with fast multi-wavelength pyrometry. Such an approach has allowed performing a thermal arrest analysis and establishing the solid–liquid phase boundaries in the investigated compositions, whereby non-congruent vaporisation was avoided by setting a suitable nitrogen overpressure. In addition, the normal spectral emissivities of the current samples were determined by radiance spectroscopy. Besides revealing a slightly more metallic optical behaviour in plutonium-containing compositions, this latter characterisation led to the determination of the real melting/solidification temperatures of the investigated nitrides. It is confirmed that UN melts congruently at (3120 ± 30) K in a nitrogen pressure of 0.25 MPa (2.5 bar). The melting/solidification temperatures decrease in plutonium containing samples, reaching (3045 ± 25) K for x(PuN) = 0.2, a composition of interest for potential applications of this material as a nuclear fuel. Besides their fundamental importance, the current results are useful for a deeper understanding of the nitride fuel behaviour under accidental conditions, whereby uncontrolled thermal excursions might occur in the nuclear reactor core.
JRC Directorate:Nuclear Safety and Security

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