Multiscale development of a fission gas thermal conductivity model: Coupling atomic, meso and continuum level simulations

Michael R. Tonks, Paul C. Millett, Pankaj Nerikar, Shiyu Du, David Andersson, Christopher R. Stanek, Derek Gaston, David Andrs, Richard Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Fission gas production and evolution significantly impact the fuel performance, causing swelling, a reduction in the thermal conductivity and fission gas release. However, typical empirical models of fuel properties treat each of these effects separately and uncoupled. Here, we couple a fission gas release model to a model of the impact of fission gas on the fuel thermal conductivity. To quantify the specific impact of grain boundary (GB) bubbles on the thermal conductivity, we use atomistic and mesoscale simulations. Atomistic molecular dynamic simulations were employed to determine the GB thermal resistance. These values were then used in mesoscale heat conduction simulations to develop a mechanistic expression for the effective GB thermal resistance of a GB containing gas bubbles, as a function of the percentage of the GB covered by fission gas. The coupled fission gas release and thermal conductivity model was implemented in Idaho National Laboratory's BISON fuel performance code to model the behavior of a 10-pellet LWR fuel rodlet, showing how the fission gas impacts the UO2 thermal conductivity. Furthermore, additional BISON simulations were conducted to demonstrate the impact of average grain size on both the fuel thermal conductivity and the fission gas release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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