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Experimental Investigation of Cold-Spray Chromium Cladding

This paper explores the effectiveness of cold-spray chromium (Cr) coatings on Zircaloy-4 for enhancing the accident tolerance of nuclear fuels. By focusing on optimized Cr coatings subjected to high-temperature steam tests, the research contributes valuable insights into accident-tolerant fuel (ATF) technologies.


Type of Work: Conference Publication

Main Author: Mohamed Shahin

Affiliation: MIT

Co-Authors: Jan Petrik, Arunkumar Seshadri, Bren Phillips, Koroush Shirvan

Date: 2018

Conference: TopFuel 2018

Online: TopFuel

The research methodology involved a comprehensive experimental set-up using standard Zircaloy-4 substrates coated with pure chromium via cold spray (CS) processes. High temperature steam oxidation experiments, quench tests and burst tests formed the core of the data collection methods, supported by detailed surface characterisation using SEM and EDS analysis. Unique to this study was the optimisation of the Cr particle size and the use of a robotic arm for uniform coating application, which minimised defects and ensured consistent thickness across the samples. This methodological approach allowed precise control of experimental variables and enabled direct comparison of coated and uncoated Zircaloy-4 under identical conditions.
Key findings reveal that Cr coatings significantly enhance the oxidation resistance and mechanical integrity of Zircaloy-4 under severe conditions, reducing hydrogen pickup and generation without compromising the thermal-hydraulic performance. Despite a potential failure mode identified at temperatures below 1300 °C, the overall results underscore the promising application of Cr coatings in improving the accident tolerance of nuclear fuels.