Examination of Fuel Elements Irradiated in the Reactor of the World’s First NPP After Long-Term Storage
Examinations of fuel elements with two different fuel compositions, U-Mo+Mg and UO2+Mg, irradiated in the AM reactor after their long-term storage do not reveal any visible defects on the surface of their outer claddings. However, in the fuel elements with U-Mo fuel, an increase in the diameter of the outer cladding is observed. This is most noticeable in the upper part of the fuel element. Storage of the fuel elements with UO2 fuel for 15 – 22 years does not lead to a change in their diameter within the measurement accuracy. At the same time, metallographic studies have shown that on the external surface of the outer cladding and the internal surface of the inner cladding of the fuel elements with U-Mo+Mg and UO2+Mg fuel compositions, after long-term storage, defects are observed in the form of intergranular and irregular frontal corrosion, pits and pittings up to 20 mm deep. No interaction is found at the points of contact between the fuel claddings and the fuel composition of the layers. There is no noticeable decrease in the thickness of the outer and inner claddings of the fuel elements after long-term storage, nor does the thickness of the claddings at the locations of defects go beyond its minimum initial value, taking into account the technological tolerance for variations in thickness. It is noteworthy, however, that cracks are found in both types of fuel elements both in the fuel grains and in the magnesium matrix. As a result of long-term storage of the fuel elements with U-Mo fuel for 45 – 55 years, the mechanical properties of their outer claddings gradually degrade, due to which the plasticity of the cladding is significantly reduced.
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Link for citing the article: Ivanov S.N., Porollo S.I., Shulepin S.V., Baranayev Yu.D., Timofeev V.F., Kharizomenov Yu.V. Examination of Fuel Elements Irradiated in the Reactor of the World’s First NPP After Long-Term Storage. Izvestiya vuzov. Yadernaya Energetika. 2022, no. 3, pp. 106-119; DOI: https://doi.org/10.26583/npe.2022.3.10 (in Russian).