Determining the minimum required uranium carbide content for HTGR UCO fuel kernels

Jacob W. McMurray, Terrence B. Lindemer, Nicholas R. Brown, Tyler J. Reif, Robert N. Morris, John D. Hunn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Scopus citations


    Three important failure mechanisms that must be controlled in high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) fuel for certain higher burnup applications are SiC layer rupture, SiC corrosion by CO, and coating compromise from kernel migration. All are related to high CO pressures stemming from O release when uranium present as UO2 fissions and the O is not subsequently bound by other elements. In the HTGR kernel design, CO buildup from excess O is controlled by the inclusion of additional uranium apart from UO2 in the form of a carbide, UCx and this fuel form is designated UCO. Here general oxygen balance formulas were developed for calculating the minimum UCx content to ensure negligible CO formation for 15.5% enriched UCO taken to 16.1% actinide burnup. Required input data were obtained from CALPHAD (CALculation of PHAse Diagrams) chemical thermodynamic models and the Serpent 2 reactor physics and depletion analysis tool. The results are intended to be more accurate than previous estimates by including more nuclear and chemical factors, in particular the effect of transmuted Pu and Np oxides on the oxygen distribution as the fuel kernel composition evolves with burnup.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)237-242
    Number of pages6
    JournalAnnals of Nuclear Energy
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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