Development of a multiscale thermal conductivity model for fission gas in UO2

Michael R. Tonks, Xiang Yang Liu, David Andersson, Danielle Perez, Aleksandr Chernatynskiy, Giovanni Pastore, Christopher R. Stanek, Richard Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Accurately predicting changes in the thermal conductivity of light water reactor UO2 fuel throughout its lifetime in reactor is an essential part of fuel performance modeling. However, typical thermal conductivity models from the literature are empirical. In this work, we begin to develop a mechanistic thermal conductivity model by focusing on the impact of gaseous fission products, which is coupled to swelling and fission gas release. The impact of additional defects and fission products will be added in future work. The model is developed using a combination of atomistic and mesoscale simulation, as well as analytical models. The impact of dispersed fission gas atoms is quantified using molecular dynamics simulations corrected to account for phonon-spin scattering. The impact of intragranular bubbles is accounted for using an analytical model that considers phonon scattering. The impact of grain boundary bubbles is determined using a simple model with five thermal resistors that are parameterized by comparing to 3D mesoscale heat conduction results. When used in the BISON fuel performance code to model four reactor experiments, it produces reasonable predictions without having been fit to fuel thermocouple data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • General Materials Science
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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