Boron-nitride-coated nuclear fuels

Gunduz G., Uslu I., Durmazucar H. H.

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, vol.116, no.1, pp.78-90, 1996 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 116 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 1996
  • Doi Number: 10.13182/nt96-a35313
  • Title of Journal : NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY
  • Page Numbers: pp.78-90


Pure urania- and urania-gadolinia-containing fuel pellets were coated with boron nitride (BN) to improve the physical and neutronic properties of the fuel. The BN coating seems to have a technological advantage over zirconium-diboride coating. The BN is chemically inert, corrosion resistant, withstands rapid temperature changes, and has a high thermal conductivity. Since gadolinia fuel has low thermal conductivity, the gadolinia content can be lowered in the fuel by coating it with BN. In fact, the existence of two burnable absorbers in a fuel introduces desired nuclear properties since gadolinia is a fast-burning and boron a slow-burning element. The BN was deposited on fuel from two different sources, (a) from the reaction of boron trichloride (BCl3) and ammonia (NH3) at 875 K and (b) from the decomposition of trimethylamine borate complex at 1200 K. The infrared and X-ray diffraction (XRD) spectra of BN from both precursors agreed with the available data in the literature. However BN powder from borane complex had a shifted XRD peak due to the presence of carbonaceous material in the structure. The BN powder-coated fuels were heated to 1400, 1525, and 1600 K to sinter the BN. The examination under scanning electron microscope showed that grainy, rod-shaped and layered BN coatings were achieved. Rod-shaped structures were usually seen on gadolinia fuels. The increased thickness of coating favors the formation of a glassy looking layer. The BN from a borane complex seems to form a layered structure more easily than the BN from BCl3. The BN coated the surface of the fuels, and it did not penetrate into the fuels.