Skip to main content

Three-Dimensional Bubble Reconstruction in High Burnup UO2...

by Casey S Mckinney, Rachel L Seibert, Grant W Helmreich, Assel Aitkaliyeva, Kurt A Terrani
Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of Nuclear Materials
Publication Date
Page Number

In light water reactor (LWR) UO2 fuels, the evolution of volatile fission products is one of the critical areas of fuel behavior that is yet to be fully understood. In UO2 irradiated to high burnups, it is well known that most released fission gases come from the central region of the fuel as opposed to the highly porous high burnup structure (HBS) on the periphery of the pellets. However, fuels with and without interconnected bubble networks at the fuel center showed high to moderate release fractions, which conceals the mechanisms responsible for the gas release in the latter scenario. In this work, focused ion beam tomography was used to investigate the three-dimensional bubble structure in an irradiated LWR UO2 fuel pellet with high degree of fission gas retention so that the degree of bubble interconnection could be assessed. Six radial locations with different burnups and temperatures were serially sectioned and imaged to reconstruct the three-dimensional bubble structure. As expected, the highest porosity was observed at the periphery of the fuel (HBS). The porosity then decreased towards the pellet center, except for the centermost location. This location had a slightly higher porosity than its adjacent mid-radial location, which was attributed to the temperature difference between the two locations. This study provides a first-time volumetric evaluation of the porosity at different radial locations on a UO2 fuel pellet. During this investigation, no significant bubble interconnection was noted at any of the six radial locations.