Research Papers

Coupled Electro-Thermo-Mechanical Simulation for Multiple Pellet Fabrication Using Spark Plasma Sintering

[+] Author and Article Information
Bijan Nili

Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611
e-mail: nilibijan@ufl.edu

Ghatu Subhash

Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611
e-mail: subhash@ufl.edu

James S. Tulenko

Department of Material Science and Engineering,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611
e-mail: tulenko@ufl.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 18, 2017; final manuscript received October 16, 2017; published online March 6, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Donggang Yao.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 140(5), 051010 (Mar 06, 2018) (12 pages) Paper No: MANU-17-1443; doi: 10.1115/1.4038295 History: Received July 18, 2017; Revised October 16, 2017

A coordinated experimental and computational analysis was undertaken to investigate the temperature field, heat generation, and stress distribution within a spark plasma sintering (SPS) tooling-specimen system during single- and multipellet fabrication of uranium dioxide (UO2) fuel pellets. Different SPS tool assembly configurations consisting of spacers, punches, pellets, and a die with single or multiple cavities were analyzed using ANSYS finite element (FE) software with coupled electro-thermo-mechanical modeling approach. For single-pellet manufacture, the importance of the die dimensions in relation to punch length and their influence on temperature distribution in the pellet were analyzed. The analysis was then extended to propose methods for reducing the overall power consumption of the SPS fabrication process by optimizing the dimensions and configurations of tooling for simultaneous sintering of multiple pellets in each processing cycle. For double-pellet manufacture, the effect of the center punch length (that separates the two pellets) on the temperature distribution in the pellets was investigated. Finally, for the multiple pellet fabrication, the optimum spacing between the pellets as well as the distance between the die cavities and the outer surface of the die wall were determined. A good agreement between the experimental data on the die surface temperature and FE model results was obtained. The current analysis may be utilized for further optimization of advanced tooling concepts to control temperature distribution and obtain uniform microstructure in fuel pellets in large-scale manufacturing using SPS process.

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Fig. 1

(a) Temperature and pressure profile for single-pellet manufacture. Various pellet-die configurations for fabrication of (b) single pellet, (c) two pellets, and (d) four pellets simultaneously.

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Fig. 2

Variation in material properties of graphite and UO2 as a function of temperature: (a) thermal conductivity, (b) density, and (c) heat capacity

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Fig. 3

Geometry and boundary conditions of SPS spacer-tool assembly for (a) single-pellet (model S), (b) double-pellet (model D), and (c) four-pellet fabrication (model M)

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Fig. 4

Numerical and experimental comparison of temperature profiles during the sintering of UO2 pellets for different configurations: (a) single-pellet, (b) double-pellet, and (c) four-pellet fabrication. Shaded region indicates the holding time.

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Fig. 5

Influence of the die height on temperature gradient within the UO2 pellet during the holding time

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Fig. 6

The effect of die wall thickness on (a) current-density distribution in radial direction at the beginning of the holding time and (b) the corresponding temperature distribution in radial direction, (c) current-density distribution in axial direction, and (d) the corresponding temperature distribution in axial direction. The inset in (c) reveals the high current concentration in the protruded area of the punch between the die and spacer.

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Fig. 7

Influence of the die wall thickness on temperature gradient within the UO2 pellet during the holding time

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Fig. 8

The influence of length of the middle punch on (a) current-density distribution in axial direction and (b) temperature distribution in axial direction where the thick lines indicate the pellet location

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Fig. 9

The effect of cavity spacing on (a) current-density distribution in radial direction from the center of the die, (b) temperature distribution in radial direction from the center of the die, (c) current-density distribution in radial direction for a die with insulation graphite felt, and (d) temperature distribution in radial direction from the center of the die with graphite felt insulation. The thick lines indicate the pellet location.

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Fig. 10

Influence of the lateral spacing between the cavities on temperature gradient within the pellet during the holding time

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Fig. 11

Comparison between power and energy consumption during single- and multipellet sintering process: (a) power consumption (kW) for various pellet-die configurations and (b) total energy consumption and energy consumption per pellet (kWh)

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Fig. 12

Die designs for multiple pellet fabrication of UO2: (a) single die in each row and (b) multiple dies in each row




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