Studies on plutonium-zirconium co-precipitation and carbothermal reduction in the internal gelation process for nitride fuel preparation
Journal article, 2016
Sol-gel based techniques are one way to lower the handling of highly radioactive powders when producing transuranium-containing fuel. In this work inert matrix (Zr0.6,Pu0.4)N fuel has been produced by internal gelation followed by carbothermal reduction. No co-gelation was observed during internal gelation and a two phase material could be detected by scanning electron microscopy in the nitrided microspheres. Sintering has been performed in both Ar and N2. X-ray diffraction revealed that sintering in N2 produced a solid solution, while sintering in Ar did not. The final metal composition in the microspheres was determined by ICP-MS to be about 41% Pu and 59% Zr. Vegard's law was applied to estimate the nitride purity in the solid solution pellet to be Zr0.6Pu0.4N0.87C0.13 making the final material more of a carbonitride than a pure nitride.