J. Creasy, “Thermal Properties of Uranium-Molybdenum Alloys, Phase Decomposition Effects of Heat Treatments”, M.S. Thesis, Nuclear Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (2011).
Uranium-Molybdenum (U-Mo) alloys are of interest to the nuclear engineering community for their potential use as reactor fuel. The addition of molybdenum serves to stabilize the gamma phase of uranium, as well as increasing the melting point of the fuel. Thermal properties of U-Mo alloys have not been fully characterized, especially within the area of partial phase decomposition of the gamma phase of the alloy. Additional data was acquired through this research to expand the characterization data set for U-Mo alloys.
The U-Mo alloys used for this research were acquired from the Idaho National Laboratory and consisted of three alloys of nominal 7, 10, and 13 percent molybdenum by weight. The sample pins were formed by vacuum induction melt casting. Once the three sample pins were fabricated and sent to the Fuel Cycle and Materials Laboratory at Texas A&M University, the pins were homogenized and sectioned for heat treatment. Several heat treatments were performed on the samples to induce varying degrees of phase decomposition, and the samples were subsequently sectioned for phase verification and thermal analysis.
An Electron Probe Microanalyzer with wavelength dispersive spectroscopy was used to observe the phases in the samples as well as to characterize each phase. The density of each sample was determined using Archimedes method. Finally, a light flash analyzer was used to determine thermal diffusivity of the samples up to 300 degrees C as well as to estimate the thermal conductivity. For U-10Mo, thermal diffusivity increased with increasing phase decomposition from gamma to alpha +U2Mo while U-7Mo saw a flattening of the thermal diffusivity curve with increased phase decomposition.