Distribution of metallic fission-product particles in the cladding liner of spent nuclear fuel

Richard A. Clark, Michele A. Conroy, Timothy G. Lach, Edgar C. Buck, Kristi L. Pellegrini, Bruce K. McNamara, Jon M. Schwantes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We have made observations of noble metal phase fission-product agglomerates and gaseous xenon within the fuel-cladding interaction (FCI) zone of a high-burnup UO2 fuel. The FCI is the boundary between the UO2 pellet outer surface and the inner wall of the oxidized Zr-liner/cladding of the fuel rod. These fission-product agglomerates are well known to occur within the spent fuel matrix, and although radionuclides have been reported by others, we reveal aspects of their speciation and morphology. That they occur as discrete particles in the oxidized Zr liner, suggests the occurrence of hitherto unknown processes in the FCI zone during reactor operation, and this may have implications for the long-term storage and disposal of these types of materials. As expected, the particle agglomerates, which ranged in size from the nanometer scale to the micrometer scale, contained mainly Mo, Ru, Tc, Rh, and Pd; however, we also found significant quantities of Te associated with Pd. Indeed, we found nanometer scale separation of the distinct Pd/Te phase from the other fission products within the particles. Often associated with the particles was concentrations of uranium, sometimes appearing as a “cloud” with a tail emanating from the fuel into the oxidized cladding liner. Many of the noble metal phase particles appeared as fractured clusters separated by Xe-gas-filled voids. Possible mechanisms of formation or transport in the cladding liner are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
Journalnpj Materials Degradation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of metallic fission-product particles in the cladding liner of spent nuclear fuel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this