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But, since lower neutron cross-section of Er than Gd makes self-shielding less of a problem and since a low consumption rate of the burnable absorption is a reason to select Er rather than Gd, is homogeneous dispersion ofEr in the fuel of any benefit? High densities are achieved with additives which are introduced first to enhance Er solubility and grain growth. Perhaps, homogeneous dispersion ofEr is not absolutely indispensable, it is useful for grain growth and in pile behavior. Such an improvement can easily be achieved.
For the remaining seeded samples, after one sintering cycle the degree of recrystallisation is for the most part total with little presence of grains of a size associated with conventional growth. 40-- ir. o o o o o o TJ-OOOOOO grain diameter (um) grain diameter (jim) «DO«~. i / i o m o o o o \45 r-T O f) oo ^ f*4 r grain diameter (um) 40-— - - —- grain diameter (um) •*• OS C r- cv <*•> r~ c-j — f^ grain diameter (um) FIG 3 54 Three-dimensional grain size distributions on seeded and unseeded samples after one furnace cycle.
Fuel with a low doping agent content would seem to hold out most promise and its use is being continued in order to optimize compositions and microstructures. The composite fuel concept is interesting as a study tool ; for example, it can be used to obtain UO2 at very high burnups having been subject to special irradiation conditions such as low temperatures in the CERMET case. These basic studies are supported by the FRAMATOME and EDF companies and will be followed by numerical calculation on the behaviour in reactor and irradiations in PWR.