AbstractLow-enriched uranium (LEU) alloyed with 10% Mo (U-10Mo) is being considered as a promising alternative to oxide-based dispersion fuel with high-enriched uranium for use in research reactors. The configuration of this proposed LEU monolithic LEU fuel plate consists of a U-10Mo plate-type fuel foil with a 25 µm zirconium interlayer barrier clad with an aluminum alloy (AA6061). In certain research reactors, the clad AA6061 is coated with a boehmite layer to prevent corrosion. The boehmite layer has a high-pH passivation range, which makes it resistant to oxidation. Boehmite is usually formed on the AA6061 surface by autoclave processing. Before the boehmite layer is added, the surface of the AA6061 is cleaned using techniques such as polishing and wet etching. In this study, we use multimodal analysis to examine how pretreatment of AA6061 using polishing followed by alkaline etching affects the chemical composition of the boehmite layer. X-ray photoelectron microscopy (XPS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and x-ray diffraction (XRD) were used to study the chemical changes in the boehmite layer caused by alkaline etching pretreatment. XPS provides quantitative analysis for the Al:O ratio as well as oxidation states present on the surface, which suggests slight oxidation of the boehmite surface after alkaline etching of the AA6061 surface. We further explored this suggested oxidation of the boehmite surface using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy with selected area electron diffraction (SAED) and grazing incidence x-ray diffraction (GI-XRD), which suggested only a small amount of aluminum oxide at the surface. The multimodal analysis and imaging yielded new insights for optimizing boehmite growth on AA6061 for research reactors.
Published: January 13, 2023