Pellets of sintered ZrN were studied to optimize the mechanical properties and microstructures needed in nitride fuel pellets, using ZrN as a surrogate for actinide nitrides and as potential component in low fertile and inert matrix fuels. Samples were prepared via sintering in either Ar or N2 (with and without 6% H2) and at 1300 °C or 1600 °C. A significant difference in the hardness was measured ranging from 1000 (Kg/mm2) in samples sintered at 1600 °C in argon to 100 (Kg/mm2) in samples sintered at 1300 °C in nitrogen. Samples with 6% hydrogen added to the sintering environment experienced a decrease in hardness, as well as an increase in intergranular cracking as compared to samples sintered without hydrogen, suggesting hydrogen embrittlement. Grain size was more uniform in samples sintered in pure Ar as compared to Ar-H2, while the latter had a larger fraction of high angle grain boundaries than the former. Cracking around indents had a clear tendency to follow high angle boundaries, which were found to be intrinsically weak in ZrN.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering