An important aspect of the Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA) program is the development of a casting process by which volatile actinide element (i.e., americium) can be incorporated into metallic alloy fuel pins. The traditional metal fuel casting process uses an inductively heated crucible.
This process works well for the fabrication of metal fuel pins traditionally composed of alloys of uranium and plutonium, but does not work well when highly volatile actinides are included in the melt. The problem occurs both during the extended time period required to superheat the alloy melt as well as when the chamber must be evacuated. The low vapor-pressure actinides, particularly americium, are susceptible to rapid vaporization and transport throughout the casting furnace, resulting in only a fraction of the charge being incorporated into the fuel pins as desired.
Candidate design concepts are being evaluated for their potential to successfully cast alloys containing volatile actinides. The selection of design concepts has been conducted in close cooperation with ANL staff. The research centers on the development of advanced numerical models to assess conditions that significantly impact the transport of volatile actinides during the melt casting process. The work will include the collection and documentation of volatile actinide properties, development of several conceptual designs for melt casting furnaces, modeling and analysis of these concepts, development of sophisticated numerical models to assess furnace operations, and analysis of these operations to determine which furnace concept has the greatest potential of success. Research efforts will focus on the development of complex heat transfer, mass transfer, and inductive heating models.
Actinide alloys; Actinide elements; Americium; Heat – Transmission; Mass transfer; Metal castings; Metallurgical furnaces; Nuclear fuel rods
Metallurgy | Nuclear | Nuclear Engineering
Design and Analysis for Melt Casting Metallic Fuel Pins Incorporating Volatile Actinides: Quarterly Progress Report 11/16/01- 2/15/02.
Available at: https://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/hrc_trp_fuels/6