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Influence of the sintering atmosphere on dense Uranium mono-carbide properties

Abstract : Mixed (U, Pu) carbides are potential candidate fuels for future IV th generation reactor systems because of their high fissile atom density and their excellent thermal properties. They could contribute to an economical, more compact and efficient core design. Much less studied than oxides, a reassessment of their properties from more recent microanalysis techniques developed for the characterization of uranium oxides could draw benefit. Investigations will focus on UC considered to be a valid surrogate material for R&D studies on (U,Pu)C fuels. UC possesses a similar NaCl type crystal structure and allows larger possibilities for characterization with available techniques. UC is also thought to be a more simple system than uranium-plutonium mixed carbides. The object of this paper is the study of the influence of manufacturing parameters upon the microstructural properties of dense mono-carbides. The narrow range of composition over which the material is stable and its general chemical instability are the cause of many manufacturing difficulties. The carbo-thermic reaction using a mixture of UO 2 and carbon was used as the easiest way to synthetize the carbide powder. Because carbides will slowly oxidize in air, all fabrication stages and equipment required for sample preparation are handled in glove boxes in an argon atmosphere with particularly low oxygen content. Optimized processing conditions have been investigated in order to obtain a high density, single phase material after sintering. The influence of four sintering atmospheres has been investigated such as low vacuum, pure argon, argon/hydrogen and argon/hydrogen/methane. Their influences on sample chemical and physical characteristics are presented.
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O. Fiquet, G. Raveu, G. Martin, Ph Garcia. Influence of the sintering atmosphere on dense Uranium mono-carbide properties. 2020. ⟨cea-02520553⟩

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