Lithium and boron analysis by LA-ICP-MS results from a bowed PWR rod with contact
Studsvik Nuclear AB,
2 Vattenfall Nuclear Fuel AB, 169 92 Stockholm, Sweden
3 Ringhals AB, 430 22 Väröbacka, Sweden
⁎ e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 7 December 2016
Published online: 25 January 2017
A previously published investigation of an irradiated fuel rod from the Ringhals 2 PWR, which was bowed to contact with an adjacent rod, identified a significant but highly localised thinning of the clad wall and increased corrosion. Rod fretting was deemed unlikely due to the adhering oxide covering the surfaces. Local overheating in itself was also deemed insufficient to account for the accelerated corrosion. Instead, an enhanced concentration of lithium due to conditions of local boiling was hypothesised to explain the accelerated corrosion. Studsvik has developed a hot cell coupled LA-ICP-MS (Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer) equipment that enables a flexible means of isotopic analysis of irradiated fuel and other highly active surfaces. In this work, the equipment was used to investigate the distribution of lithium (7Li) and boron (11B) in the outer oxide at the bow contact area. Depth profiling in the clad oxide at the opposite side of the rod to the point of contact, which is considered to have experienced normal operating conditions and which has a typical oxide thickness, evidenced levels of ∼10–20 ppm 7Li and a 11B content reaching hundreds of ppm in the outer parts of the oxide, largely in agreement with the expected range of Li and B clad oxide concentrations from previous studies. In the contact area, the 11B content was similar to the reference condition at the opposite side. The 7Li content in the outermost oxide closest to the contact was, however, found to be strongly elevated, reaching several hundred ppm. The considerable and highly localised increase in lithium content at the area of enhanced corrosion thus offers strong evidence for a case of lithium induced breakaway corrosion during power operation, when rod-to-rod contact and high enough surface heat flux results in a very local increase in lithium concentration.
© A. Puranen et al., published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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