In-reactor performance and lifetime of nuclear fuel elements are controlled by the limitation of the materials of which they are made. Metallic and ceramic components of the core must operate in an environment that combines high temperatures, intense radiation fields, and corrosive chemical species. The nuclear materials research program at Berkeley is concerned principally with the chemical and physical behavior of the fuel and the cladding under these conditions. The experiments are intended to provide insight into the mechanisms of the phenomena involved, since fundamental understanding is ultimately useful in technological design. The research utilizes a variety of high-temperature furnaces and in-situ microbalances for continuously recording reaction rates.
Research Expertise and Interest
nuclear engineering, nuclear materials: reactor fuel behavior, hydriding of zirconium and uranium, high-temperature kinetic and thermodynamic behavior of nuclear reactor fuels, performance of degraded nuclear fuels