The development of stable ceramic materials for the containment of molten zirconium and uranium alloys Conference Paper uri icon


  • The effective containment, of molten reactive metals is a critical issue in the electrometallurgical treatment of spent nuclear fuel as well as in the reactive metals industry. Electrometallurgical treatment includes melt-consolidation steps for stainless steel-zirconium (SS-Zr) alloys and for uranium metal. Although cold-hearth melting may be an option for future processing equipment, existing process equipment at ANL West mandates the hot containment of these molten reactive metals. Candidate ceramic materials consisting of oxides, carbides, nitrides, borides and sulfides were selected based on thermodynamic stability and a series of elevated temperature interaction experiments have been performed using zirconium, SS-Zr alloys and uranium under inert gas at temperatures up to approximately 2100 °C. The experiments were recorded in situ using an external camera. The best-performing materials were fabricated into prototype crucibles (approximately 10 cm dia by approximately 15 cm tall) for bench-scale melting experiments. The results of the interaction experiments, materials selection and refinement process, and prototype experiments will be discussed.

author list (cited authors)

  • McDeavitt, S. M., & Billings, G. W.

complete list of authors

  • McDeavitt, SM||Billings, GW

publication date

  • January 1998