Chemical reactions at nuclear fuel-clad interfaces

  • Ivan H. Robins

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis presents a study of the chemical reactions that may occur at the fuel- clad interfaces of fuel elements used in advanced gas-coooled reactors (A.G.R.) The initial investigation involved a study of the inner surfaces of irradiated stainless steel clad and evidence was obtained to show that fission products, in particular tellerium, were associated with reaction products on these surfaces. An accelerated rate of oxidation was observed on the inner surfaces of a failed A.G.R. fuel pin. It is believed that fission product caesium was responsible for this enhancement. A fundamental study of the reaction between 20%Cr/25%Ni/niobium stabilised stainless steel and tellerium was then undertaken over the range 350 - 850 degrees C. Reaction occurred with increasing rapidity over this range and long term exposure at ≤ 750 degrees resulted in intergranular attack of the stainless steel and chromium depletion. The reaction on unoxidised steel surfaces involved the formation of an initial iron-nickel-tellerium layer which subsequently transformed to a chromium telluride product during continued exposure. The thermodynamic stabilities of the steel tellurides were determined to be chromium telluride > nickel telluride > iron telluride. Oxidation of the stainless steel surface prior to tellerium exposure inhibited the reaction. However reaction did occur in regions where the oxide layer had either cracked or spalled.
Date of Award1976
Original languageEnglish


  • Chemical reactions
  • nuclear fuel-clad interfaces

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