A comparative study of nitride purity and Am fabrication losses in PuN materials by the powder and internal gelation production routes
Journal article, 2016
Fabrication of plutonium containing fuels through the internal gelation method has mostly been studied in mixed metal systems such as U, Pu or Zr, Pu. In this work production of undiluted PuN has been performed by carbothermal reduction on both oxide powder and Pu microspheres produced by the internal gelation method. Nitride purities reached using the different methods have been studied together with final densities achieved during pellet fabrication as well as losses of ingrown Am during the different production steps. Formation of Pu microspheres was successfully performed using the internal gelation method, although extensive microsphere fracturing occurred during thermal treatment. Final densities of PuN pellets produced by cold pressing and sintering reached 70-80% of theoretical density. Am losses during the carbothermal reduction step was on average about 3.7%. After sintering about 11% of Am was lost in total through the entire production process if sintering in N-2 + 5% H-2 atmosphere while about 50% of the Am in total was lost when using Ar as sintering atmosphere.