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Instrument Description

The metallic fuel line is housed in the Experimental Fuels Facility, Fuel Manufacturing Facility, and the Fuels and Applied Science Building. Metallic nuclear fuels have been a leading candidate for advanced transmutation, and high-flux test reactor fuel forms. These fuels have the advantage of ease of fabrication (as compared to many ceramic fabrication processes) and high thermal conductivity as well as a large fuel behavior data based on the operation of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II reactor. The Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC), as part of INL, has all the capabilities and expertise needed to fabricate the individual fuel forms, characterize the fuel, and assemble the fuel samples into an irradiation test.



The MFC has metal fuel fabrication capabilities for both transuranic and nontransuranic fuel compositions. These capabilities start with the ability to handle fuel alloys in an inert (<10 ppm oxygen) environment, protecting the fuel from further oxidation (if needed) and the worker and surrounding environment from contamination concerns. Metal casting capabilities range from a few grams to a few kilograms, with flexible systems that can be modified to cast a number of required shapes. If the desired shape cannot be obtained directly from casting, machining capabilities for the uranium alloys also exist including a CNC lathe, mill, centerless grinder, gun drill, and electrodischarge machining center. In addition to casting, MFC has the capability to extrude, draw or roll canned uranium alloys or bare uranium alloys. After the fuel form is produced, if needed, heat treatments can be performed in a number of furnaces. Heat treatments can include annealing in either inert or vacuum atmospheres, as well as water quenching. After the fuel is fabricated, the samples can be encapsulated or double encapsulated in cladding in preparation for irradiation testing. The final encapsulation is performed through automated gas tungsten arc welding, or roll bonding in the case of aluminum clad plate type fuel. Throughout the entire metal fuel fabrication process, quality assurance/control processes are in place to dimensionally and microstructurally characterize the fuel alloy as well as the final encapsulated samples that are ready for insertion into a test reactor. Microstructural characterization can be done using standard thermomechanical characterization equipment as well as optical and electron microscopy. Reactor insertion is the final goal of many of the MFC fabrication processes, and therefore adequate quality assurance programs are in place to ensure tests can be inserted in the desired reactor.

Instrument sample preparation area; Shielded optical microscopy vacuum testing chambers testing properties gross and isotopic gamma scanning; Instron remote load frame gas measurement and analysis accident condition simulator furnace extrusion; Metallic fuel line; Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative glovebox; Glovebox advance casting system furnace; Metallic fuel line; Metallic fuel line handling; Inert-radiological gloveboxes; Uranium handling repackaging glovebox; Transuranic breakout glovebox gamma irradiator surveillance glovebox line; Cell area Quanta 3D FEG dual-beam SEM FIB JSM-7000f SEM; Gatan precision etching and coating system; Gatan precision ion polishing systems II; Gatan precision ion polishing systems JEM 2010 STEM Cameca SX100R EPMA FEI QUANTA 3D FEG Titan ChemiSTEM FEG-STEM FEI Helios dual-beam SEM-plasma FIB diffraction; Micro X-ray diffractometer Di LemmaJEOL JSM-7000f SEM coupled plasma-mass spectrometer coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometer; Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer coupled plasma-mass spectrometer advance casting system furnace; Hot uniaxial press furnace mass spectrometer; ELTRA CS-800; ELTRA ONH-2000 furnace; Differential scanning calorimeter; Simultaneous thermal analyzer; Pushrod dilatometer; Laser flash analyzer Separator Laboratories X-ray diffractometer; X-ray diffraction; Hot uniaxial press furnace
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