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Density Changes in Plutonium Observed from Accelerated Aging using Pu-238 Enrichment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2011

B. W. Chung
Affiliation:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA, 94551
S. R. Thompson
Affiliation:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA, 94551
C. H. Woods
Affiliation:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA, 94551
D. J. Hopkins
Affiliation:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA, 94551
W. H. Gourdin
Affiliation:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA, 94551
B. B. Ebbinghaus
Affiliation:
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA, 94551
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Plutonium, because of its radioactive nature, ages from the “inside out” by means of self-irradiation damage and thus produces Frankel-type defects (vacancies and self-interstitial atoms) and defect clusters. The self-irradiation damage in Plutonium-239 occurs mainly by α-particle decay, where most of the damage comes from the U-235 recoil nucleus. The defects resulting from the residual lattice damage and helium in-growth could result in microstructural and physical property changes. Because these self-irradiation effects would normally require decades to measure, with a fraction (7.5 wt%) of Pu-238 is added to the reference plutonium alloy thus accelerating the aging process by approximately 18 times the normal rate. By monitoring the properties of the Pu-238 spiked alloy over a period of about 3.5 years, the properties of plutonium in storage can be projected for periods up to about 60 years. This paper presents density and volume changes observed from the immersion density and dilatometry measurements equivalent to aging the reference plutonium alloys to nine years.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2004

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