Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Ron Walli (wallira@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Audio Spot: Energy - Nuclear fuel study

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 15, 2005 — High-resolution three-dimensional images gained with a new specialized instrument will provide insight into the relationship between materials microstructure, processing conditions and nuclear fuel performance.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Gene Ice, Eliot Specht and John Hunn of the Metals & Ceramics Division led a team that worked with Xradia to customize an X-ray tomography system to examine nuclear fuel with an unprecedented resolution of 1.6 microns. A fuel particle is about .5 millimeter in diameter.

The $600,000 instrument, similar to a CAT scan system, provides ORNL with a unique ability to nondestructively characterize the fuel particle coatings and answer several long-standing scientific questions about how to make nuclear fuel more reliable.

"We're looking for cracks and other imperfections in the layers of the particle," Specht said. The project is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy Science and Technology. [Contact: Ron Walli, (865) 576-0226; wallira@ornl.gov]

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