Development of Thorium-uranium-base Fuel Alloys

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Battelle Memorial Institute, 1960 - Nuclear fuels - 28 pages
Thorium-uranium alloys were studied with the aim of developing alloys with improved irradiation behavior by control of microstructure. The effect of thorium purity, melting technique, hot and cold working, and heat treatment on microstructure was investigated. The most signifi- cant microstructural differences occurred as a result of casting technique, The arc-melted alloys exhibited the most nearly ideal structure, that of a homogeneous dispersion of small-diameter uranium particles in a thorium matrix, In addition, the rate of work hardening, recrystallization behavior, density, and hot hardness of thoriumuranium alloys were determined. As uranium content increases, the rate of work hardening increases, The recrystallization temperature of thorium was found to increase by over 100 deg C when uranium is present. Molybdenum, niobium, zirconium, and zirconium in conjunction with niobium were added to thorium- uranium with the aim of increasing irradiation resistance by stabilizing the gamma-uranium phase and/or improving the hightemperature strength of the alloy. It was found that small additions of molybdenum or niobium were effective in stabliizing the gamma-uranium phase, while zirconium was an effective hardener at temperatures up to 600 deg C, Zirconium additions to thorium-uranium alloys were effective in improving the 300 deg C water corrosion resistance of thorium by a factor of two. (auth).

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