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Contribution to the study of fission products release from nuclear fuels in severe accident conditions : effect of the pO2 on Cs, Mo and Ba speciation

Claire Le Gall 1
1 LAMIR - Laboratoire d'Analyse de la Migration des Radioéléments
SA3E - Service d'Analyses, d'Elaboration, d'Expérientations et d'Examens des combustibles : DEN/DEC/SA3E
Abstract : In the nuclear community, it is a top priority to gain in-depth understanding of fission product (FP) speciation mechanisms occurring in nuclear fuel in order to precisely estimate the source term of a severe accident. Among the FP produced, some are highly reactive and may have a strong radiological impact if released into the environment. This is particularly the case of cesium (Cs), molybdenum (Mo) and barium (Ba). In this context, the objective of this study is to provide experimental data on the effect of the oxygen potential on Cs, Mo and Ba speciation in nuclear fuels at different stages of a severe accident.A thermodynamic approach was coupled with the experimental work to support the interpretation of experimental data. Two types of samples were studied in detail: irradiated MOX fuels and simulated high burn-up UO2 fuels produced through sintering at high temperature (SIMFuel). The samples were submitted to thermal treatments in conditions representative of a pressurised water reactor (PWR) severe accident. This approach made it possible to cover a temperature range from 400°C up to 2530°C and oxygen potentials from -470 kJ.mol(O2)-1 to -100 kJ.mol(O2)-1. The samples were characterized before and after each test using complementary techniques like OM, SEM, EPMA and SIMS in the case of irradiated fuels. XANES measurements using synchrotron radiation facilities were performed on SIMFuels and provided valuable results on FP speciation. Moreover, spark plasma sintering (SPS) was successfully investigated for the production of SIMFuel samples containing Cs, Mo and Ba in a chemical state representative of PWR fuel in normal operating conditions.This work highlighted the effect of oxidizing severe accident conditions on the fuel and FP behavior. Oxidation of Mo initially contained in the fuel’s metallic inclusions into MoO2 was observed to take place around 1000°C in oxidizing conditions. An interaction between MoO2 and the oxide phase containing Ba took place in the same conditions, leading to the formation of BaMoO4. The oxygen potential also plays an important role in fuel-cladding interactions, enhancing the diffusion of species in oxidizing conditions and lowering the temperature at which fuel melting occurs.
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Claire Le Gall. Contribution to the study of fission products release from nuclear fuels in severe accident conditions : effect of the pO2 on Cs, Mo and Ba speciation. Nuclear Experiment [nucl-ex]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAY053⟩. ⟨tel-02052819⟩

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