Processing of mixed uranium/refractory metal carbide fuels for high temperature space nuclear reactors

Knight, Travis; Anghaie, Samim
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p1448
Academic Journal
Single phase, solid-solution mixed uranium/refractory metal carbides have been proposed as an advanced nuclear fuel for high performance, next generation space power and propulsion systems. These mixed carbides such as the pseudo-ternary, (U, Zr, Nb)C, hold significant promise because of their high melting points (typically greater than 3200 K), thermochemical stability in a hot hydrogen environment, and high thermal conductivity. However, insufficient test data exist under nuclear thermal propulsion conditions of temperature and hot hydrogen environment to fully evaluate their performance. Various compositions of (U, Zr, Nb)C were processed with 5% and 10% metal mole fraction of uranium. Stoichiometric samples were processed from the constituent carbide powders while hypostoichiometric samples with carbon-to-metal (C/M) ratios of 0.95 were processed from uranium hydride, graphite, and constituent refractory carbide powders. Processing techniques of cold pressing, sintering, and hot pressing were investigated to optimize the processing parameters necessary to produce dense (low porosity), homogeneous, single phase, solid-solution mixed carbide nuclear fuels for testing. This investigation was undertaken to evaluate and characterize the performance of these mixed uranium/refractory metal carbides for space power and propulsion applications. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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