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Oxidative Corrosion of Spent uo2 Fuel in Vapor and Dripping Groundwater at 90°C

  • Robert J. Finch (a1), Edgar C. Buck (a1), Patricia A. Finn (a1) and John K. Bates (a1)

Abstract

Oxidative dissolution of spent UO2 fuel in vapor and dripping groundwater at 90°C occurs via general corrosion at fragment surfaces. Dissolution along fuel-grain boundaries is also evident in samples contacted by the largest volumes of groundwater, and corroded grain boundaries extend at least 20 or 30 grains deep (> 200 μm), possibly throughout mm-sized fragments. Apparent dissolution of fuel along defects that intersect grain boundaries has produced 50 to 200 nm-diameter dissolution pits that penetrate 1–2 μm into each grain, giving rise to a “worm-like” texture along fuel-grain boundaries. Sub-micrometer-sized fuel shards are common between fuel grains and may contribute to the reactive surface area of fuel exposed to groundwater. Outer surfaces of reacted fuel fragments develop a fmne-grained layer of corrosion products adjacent to the fuel (5–15 μm thick). A more coarsely crystalline layer of corrosion products commonly covers the fine-grained layer, the thickness of which varies considerably among samples (from less than 5 μm to greater than 40 μm). The thickest and most porous corrosion layers develop on fuel fragments exposed to the largest volumes of groundwater. Corrosion-layer compositions depend strongly on water flux, with uranyl oxy-hydroxides predominating in vapor experiments, and alkali and alkaline earth uranyl silicates predominating in high drip-rate experiments. Low drip-rate experiments exhibit a complex assemblage of corrosion products, including phases identified in vapor and high drip-rate experiments.

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Oxidative Corrosion of Spent uo2 Fuel in Vapor and Dripping Groundwater at 90°C

  • Robert J. Finch (a1), Edgar C. Buck (a1), Patricia A. Finn (a1) and John K. Bates (a1)

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