May 7, 2024

Electropolishing of a Full-Sized U-10Mo Plate


Electropolishing is used to remove material from the surface of a metal using electric potential and current. U-10Mo fuel is produced from a low enriched uranium plate alloyed with 10% molybdenum (U-10Mo). Electropolishing is being considered in two steps of the process of fabricating this U-10Mo fuel. First, it could be used as a means initially improving the surface finish of the cast plate while removing smut from the casting process from the surface prior to homogenization. Second, it could be used again after homogenization to remove oxidation and continue to improve the surface finish prior to hot rolling. The purpose of this work is to demonstrate the process on full-size ingots and optimize the process. A depleted uranium U 10Mo plate was electropolished three times: the first two times were prior to homogenization and the third after a homogenization step. The first two polishes decreased the overall roughness, as measured by laser confocal microscopy. After each polish, a smoother and shinier blue-gold surface was left on the plate. Upon homogenization, the surface had a more matte appearance and the surface roughness increased back to the pre-homogenization values obtained prior to the initial polish. After electropolishing the homogenized pieces, the changes in surface roughness increased, as measured by laser confocal microscopy. The final polishing step was not long enough to return the surface roughness to pre-homogenization conditions, implying less polishing is needed before the homogenization versus afterwards. Heat generation during the polish was addressed by circulating the electrolyte solution through an external heat exchanger; however, solubility and anodization challenges require further study.

Published: May 7, 2024


Shimskey R.W., K.A. Adams, Z.F. Huber, S.H. Swenson, and K.P. Brooks. 2022. Electropolishing of a Full-Sized U-10Mo Plate Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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