Computational properties of uranium-zirconium
Moore, Alexander Patrick
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The metallic binary-alloy fuel Uranium-Zirconium is important for use in the new generation of advanced fast reactors. Uranium-Zirconium goes through a phase transition at higher temperatures to a (gamma) Body Centered Cubic (BCC) phase. The BCC high temperature phase is particularly important since it corresponds to the temperature range in which the fast reactors will operate. A semi-empirical Modified Embedded Atom Method (MEAM) potential is presented for Uranium-Zirconium. This is the first interatomic potential created for the U-Zr system. The bulk physical properties of the Uranium-Zirconium binary alloy were reproduced using Molecular Dynamics (MD) and Monte Carlo (MC) simulations with the MEAM potential. The simulation of bulk metallic alloy separation and ordering phenomena on the atomic scale using iterative MD and MC simulations with interatomic potentials has never been done before. These simulations will help the fundamental understanding of complex phenomena in the metallic fuels. This is a large step in making a computationally acceptable fuel performance code, able to replicate and predict fuel behavior.