Fully Coupled Modeling of Burnup-Dependent (U1−y, Puy)O2−x Mixed Oxide Fast Reactor Fuel Performance

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-27
Journal / PublicationMetallurgical and Materials Transactions E: Materials for Energy Systems
Issue number1
Online published11 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


During the fast reactor nuclear fuel fission reaction, fission gases accumulate and form pores with the increase of fuel burnup, which decreases the fuel thermal conductivity, leading to overheating of the fuel element. The diffusion of plutonium and oxygen with high temperature gradient is also one of the important fuel performance concerns as it will affect the fuel material properties, power distribution, and overall performance of the fuel pin. In order to investigate these important issues, the (U1−yPuy)O2−x fuel pellet is studied by fully coupling thermal transport, deformation, oxygen diffusion, fission gas release and swelling, and plutonium redistribution to evaluate the effects on each other with burnup-dependent models, accounting for the evolution of fuel porosity. The approach was developed using self-defined multiphysics models based on the framework of COMSOL Multiphysics to manage the nonlinearities associated with fast reactor mixed oxide fuel performance analysis. The modeling results showed a consistent fuel performance comparable with the previous results. Burnup degrades the fuel thermal conductivity, resulting in a significant fuel temperature increase. The fission gas release increased rapidly first and then steadily with the burnup increase. The fuel porosity increased dramatically at the beginning of the burnup and then kept constant as the fission gas released to the fuel free volume, causing the fuel temperature to increase. Another important finding is that the deviation from stoichiometry of oxygen affects greatly not only the fuel properties, for example, thermal conductivity, but also the fuel performance, for example, temperature distribution, porosity evolution, grain size growth, fission gas release, deformation, and plutonium redistribution. Special attention needs to be paid to the deviation from stoichiometry of oxygen in fuel fabrication. Plutonium content will also affect the fuel material properties and performance. However, it is not that significant compared to the deviation from stoichiometry of oxygen due to the similar material properties of UO2 and PuO2.

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