Oxidation and hydriding mechanisms in Zr nuclear fuel cladding alloys

The critical mechanisms that lead to breakaway oxidation behaviour and delayed nydride cracking in commercial Zr alloys in reactor environments are poorly understood, and yet they are very important in controlling the safe operating lifetime of reactor fuel rods and so the fuel burnup that can be achieved. This project is using the latest generation of advanced analytical tools to study the structure and chemistry of the oxide and the oxide/metal interface at the atomic scale in order to understand how the oxidation and hydridation process might be controlled by better design of the cladding alloy. Funded by EPSRC grants EP/E036384 and EP/I003274 with support from Rolls Royce, Westinghouse and EDF, and in collaboration with the University of Manchester and the Open University.