- Volume 19 Issue 1
The confirmed integrity of nuclear fuel cladding materials is an important object during steady state and transient operations at nuclear power plant. In this context, the clad material yielding behavior is especially important because of pellet-clad gap expansion. During the steep power excursion, the in-pile irradiation behavior differences between uranium-dioxide fuel pellet and zircaloy clad induce the contact pressure between them. If this pressure reaches the zircaloy clad yield pressure, the zircaloy clad will be plastically deformed. After the reactor power resumed to normal state, this plastic permanent expansion of clad tube give rise to the pellet-clad gap expansion. In this paper, the simple mandrel expansion test method which utilizes thermal expansion difference between copper mandrel and zircaloy tube was adopted to simulate this phenomenon. That is, copper mandrel which has approximately three times of thermal expansion coefficient of zircaloy-4 (PWR fuel cladding material) were used in this experiment at the temperature range from 400C to 700C. The measured plastic expansion of zircaloy outer radius and derived mathematical relations give the yield pressure, yield stress of zircaloy-4 clad at the various clad wall temperatures, the activation energy of zircaloy tube yielding, and pellet-clad gap expansion. The obtained results are in good agreement with previous experimental results. The mathematical analysis and simple test method prove to be a reliable and simple technique to assess the yielding behavior and gap expansion measurement between zircaloy-4 tube and uranium-dioxide fuel pellet under biaxial stress conditions.