Conditions Extrêmes et Matériaux : Haute Température et Irradiation

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G.Raveu, G.Martin, O.Fiquet, P.Garcia, G.Carlot, H.Palancher, A.Bonnin, H.Khodja, C.Raepsaet, T.Sauvage, M.F.Barthe, 'Experimental study of UC polycrystals in the prospect of improving the as-fabricated sample purity', Nucl. Instr. Meth. Phys. Res. B 341 72-76 (2014) doi:10.1016/j.nimb.2014.09.007

Uranium and plutonium carbides are candidate fuels for Generation IV nuclear reactors. This study is focused on the characterization of uranium monocarbide samples. The successive fabrication steps were carried out under atmospheres containing low oxygen and moisture concentrations (typically less than 100 ppm) but sample transfers occurred in air. Six samples were sliced from four pellets elaborated by carbothermic reaction under vacuum. Little presence of UC2 is expected in these samples. The α-UC2 phase was indeed detected within one of these UC samples during an XRD experiment performed with synchrotron radiation. Moreover, oxygen content at the surface of these samples was depth profiled using a recently developed nuclear reaction analysis method. Large oxygen concentrations were measured in the first micron below the sample surface and particularly in the first 100–150 nm. UC2 inclusions were found to be more oxidized than the surrounding matrix. This work points out to the fact that more care must be given at each step of UC fabrication since the material readily reacts with oxygen and moisture. A new glovebox facility using a highly purified atmosphere is currently being built in order to obtain single phase UC samples of better purity.Abstract