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The Effects of Plutonium Content and Self-Irradiation on Thermal Conductivity of Mixed Oxide Fuel

Yoshihisa Ikusawa, Kyoichi Morimoto, Masato Kato, Kosuke Saito, Masayoshi Uno

Nuclear Technology / Volume 205 / Number 3 / March 2019 / Pages 474-485

Technical Paper /

Received:April 17, 2018
Accepted:June 26, 2018
Published:February 14, 2019

This study evaluated the effects of plutonium content and self-irradiation on the thermal conductivity of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel. Samples of UO2 fuel and various MOX fuels were tested. The MOX fuels had a range of plutonium contents, and some samples were stored for 20 years. The thermal conductivity of these samples was determined from thermal diffusivity measurements taken via laser flash analysis. Although the thermal conductivity decreased with increasing plutonium content, this effect was slight. The effect of self-irradiation was investigated using the stored samples. The reduction in thermal conductivity caused by self-irradiation depended on the plutonium content, its isotopic composition, and storage time. The reduction in thermal conductivity over 20 years’ storage can be predicted from the change of the lattice parameter. In addition, the decrease in thermal conductivity caused by self-irradiation was recovered with heat treatment—and was recovered almost completely at temperatures over 1200 K. From these evaluation results, we formulated an equation for thermal conductivity that is based on the classical phonon-transport model. This equation can predict the thermal conductivity of MOX fuel thermal conductivity by accounting for the influences of plutonium content and self-irradiation.

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