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Abstract

Metallic fuel slugs containing rare-earth (RE) elements have high reactivity with quartz (SiO2) molds, and a reaction layer with a considerable thickness is formed at the surface of metallic fuel slugs. The surface characterization of metallic fuel slugs is essential for safety while operating a fast reactor at elevated temperature. Hence, it is necessary to evaluate the surface characteristics of the fuel slugs so that chemical interaction between fuel slug and cladding can be minimized in the reactor. When the Si element causes a eutectic reaction with the cladding, it deteriorates the metallic fuel slugs. Thus, it is necessary to examine the characteristics of the surface reaction layer to prevent the reaction of the metallic fuel slugs. In this study, we investigated the metallurgical characteristics of the surface reaction layer of fabricated U-10wt.%Zr-Xwt.%RE (X = 0, 5, 10) fuel slugs using injection casting. The results showed that the thickness of the surface reaction layer increased as the RE content of the metallic fuel slugs increased. The surface reaction layer of the metallic fuel slug was mainly formed by RE, Zr and the Si, which diffused in the quartz mold.
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