Pulsed neutron powder diffraction studies at IPNS have expanded our understanding of the phases present in Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) metal fuel alloys at temperatures in the range of reactor operating conditions. We report results from the binary alloy (U-10wt.%Zr) and ternary alloys (U-8%Pu-10%Zr) and (U-19%Pu-10%Zr). Determining the role and the location of Zr and Pu in these alloys is considered of fundamental importance for maximizing engineering efficiency.
Rietveld profile analysis was utilized to study the phase diagrams. Data were collected at temperatures ranging from 25-650°C. Although the expected U/Pu/Zr phases (α-U, β-U, γ-U, δ-U/Zr/Pu, ζ-U/Pu) were observed in appropriate temperature ranges, there were some unexpected results. Relative amounts of all phases at each temperature were calculated from Rietveld scale factors and inferences were made as to the location of zirconium and plutonium, i.e. amounts in each phase, from site occupancies and absorption characteristics of the phases present. Finally, we were able to identify ZrO and ZrO1-x inclusion phases in the U-Zr alloy present in very small (0.5-1.0%) amounts.