Izvestiya vuzov. Yadernaya Energetika

The peer-reviewed scientific and technology journal. ISSN: 0204-3327

Modernization of Uranium-Zirconium Fuel Rod of IVG.1M Research Reactor

3/18/2024 2024 - #01 Nuclear materials

Solntsev V.A. Soldatkin D.M. Nuzhin V.N.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.26583/npe.2024.1.08

UDC: 621.039.542.3

This paper describes the development of dispersion-type uranium-zirconium fuel rod. Uranium is distributed in a zirconium matrix material in the form of axis-oriented fibers. The fuel rod is designed for the conversion of the IVG.1M research reactor (Republic of Kazakhstan) from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU). The need for HEU-LEU conversion arose in connection with Kazakhstan joining the program to convert research and test reactors to fuel with reduced enrichment [1]. The work solves the problem of deformation of a low-tech (located in a zone of low plasticity) U-Zr alloys by replacing them with a heterogeneous compound.

The manufacture of fuel rod is based on metal forming processes. Initially, a fuel rod wire with a core of fiber structure is formed by triple co-extrusion of cylindrical uranium and coaxial zirconium billets. At the next stage, the wire is processed to the required diameter by drawing, then the operation of flattening, twisting and cutting into specified lengths is carried out. Upon reaching a high total degree of deformation obtained during cold work, relaxation annealing is carried out at temperatures of 550 – 600°C, which leads to the formation of a transboundary layer of the UZr2 intermetallic compound with a thickness of 1 – 2 mm. The intermetallic layer, without having a significant effect on the strength and thermal conductivity of the compound, ensures high quality diffusion bonding of all fuel rod components. The final operations are melting of the ends of the fuel rods and sealing by electroplating with nickel. As a result, blade-profile fuel elements are obtained with a thickness of 1.5 mm, a diameter of the circumcircle of 2.8 mm and an average effective diameter of uranium fiber of 40 mm.

A set of 140 fuel rods was manufactured and loaded into an operating IVG.1M reactor. The power start-up took place in 2023. Due to the unification and wide variability in the loading of the fuel component, in size and shape of the cross section, in structure and materials of the matrix compound, the fiber fuel element design can be used in the development of fuel rods for advanced reactors for various purposes.


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uranium-zirconium fuel rod compound technology extrusion drawing cutting heat treatment intermetallic compound temperature regime fiber structure research reactor

Link for citing the article: Solntsev V.A., Soldatkin D.M., Nuzhin V.N. Modernization of Uranium-Zirconium Fuel Rod of IVG.1M Research Reactor. Izvestiya vuzov. Yadernaya Energetika. 2024, no. 1, pp. 96-106; DOI: https://doi.org/10.26583/npe.2024.1.08 (in Russian).