Evaluation of the anisotropic grain boundaries and surfaces of alpha-U via molecular dynamics

K Mahbuba and B Beeler and A Jokisaari, JOURNAL OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS, 554, 153072 (2021).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2021.153072

Alloys based on uranium-zirconium are gaining renewed interest as fuels for the Versatile Test Reactor and a number of microreactor designs. Implementing metallic fuel in reactors creates the need for robust descriptive and predictive fuel performance modeling. The current state of metallic fuel performance modeling relies on empirical equations derived from historical experiments, which may be unreliable when applied outside of their temperature, power, and composition phase space. One area where such data is lacking is the irradiation behavior of alpha-U, specifically tearing and porosity formation at the early stages of irradiation. While grain boundaries likely play a key role in this fuel behavior, relatively little is known about grain boundaries in alpha-U. Thus, we evaluate the grain boundary, surface energy, and work of adhesion of alpha-U utilizing molecular dynamics. Symmetric tilt grain boundaries (STGBs) are analyzed with the tilt plane oriented along each major crystallographic axis, for a total of eighty unique grain boundaries. The effect of temperature, tilt plane, and misorientation angle on interfacial energies are analyzed. The interfacial energies typically increase with temperature and there is significant variance as a function of misorientation angle, irrespective of the tilt plane. At 500 K, the average surface energy (1.23 J/m(2)) is approximately 1.5 times the grain boundary energy (0.79 J/m(2)), and the work of adhesion is approximately twice the grain boundary energy (1.68 J/m(2)). Orientations for the likely formation of twins and likely failure planes are identified. (C) 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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