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The small volume of material analysed and the ease of quantification make electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) the ideal analytical tool with which to study the chemical behaviour of the actinide elements and fission products in a nuclear fuel. Indeed, EPMA has helped to maintain the high safety standards of the nuclear industry by providing fundamental information on the behaviour of nuclear fuel under extreme irradiation conditions. For example, it supplied the first data on the local retention of xenon required to model fission gas release during a reactor power excursion and provided a crucial insight into the mechanisms involved. Recently, it delivered some of the first results on the transmutation of neptunium and americium in a fast reactor which will enable a decision to be made on whether nuclear incineration is a viable option to the long term storage of nuclear waste. At present, one of the important tasks of EPMA is to provide basic data on local burn-up, plutonium production and fission gas release for the validation of the fuel performance code TRANSURANUS which is being used by fuel vendors, nuclear licensing authorities and electrical power utilities throughout Europe.

Additional information

Authors: WALKER C, JRC Karlsruhe (DE)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: EMAS Regional Workshop on Modern Developments and Application in Microbeam Analysis, Barcelona (ES), 13-16 May 1998
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 41397 ORA
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