The effect of cluster reconfiguration and non-stoichiometry on uranium vacancy migration in UO2

Conference Dates

September 4-8, 2016


During reactor operation the release of fission gases from the fuel pellet is an important safety issue as it can lead to over-pressurization and failure of the fuel cladding. Uranium vacancy migration has been identified as the limiting step in the diffusion of fission gases through bulk UO2. The uranium vacancy migration energy is, therefore, an important parameter in this phenomenon, as well as other atomic scale processes, such as recovery from radiation damage. Chemical changes under taken by the fuel during irradiation lead to deviations from stoichiometric UO2 and the charge compensating defects that bind to the uranium vacancy also change. Therefore, we have examined the change in the migration energy for a uranium vacancy when bound to either two oxygen vacancies (Schottky defect) or to four U5+ cations (hole defects) representing UO2 and UO2+x respectively. By using empirical potentials within statics we were able to sample a large array of metastable cluster configurations to identify lower energy migration pathways that involve the reconfiguration of the cluster from the ground state configuration to metastable configurations (see UO2+x results in Figure 1). The work is published in ref [1].

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