UO2 (Uranium Dioxide) refers to the fuel that has the ability to power 95% of the world’s nuclear reactors. However, the exciting aspect about this fuel is that scientists are still not aware of all the associated characteristics with UO2. For instance, in 2017, it was discovered that if this fuel is squeezed, it becomes piezomagnetic.
Piezomagnetism is formed because the material is full of tiny magnets, which makes it a three-dimensional magnetic structure. Typically, the magnet has a north and a south pole resulting in its magnetism points point from one pole to another in a single direction. In difference, UO2 has magnetism that point in three different directions at one time. Hence, its structure is more complex than imagined. It is of utmost importance that the mechanism behind the piezomagnetic effect is better understood so that it can be used for advantageous purposes.
A recent study was taken by researchers to do the same. They invested their knowledge and tools to see how UO2 works and becomes piezomagnetic. The team discovered that piezomagnetism arises due to the microscopic structure of the material. The emphasis was on the way in which tiny magnets arrange themselves inside the crystals and the interaction that takes place in-between atoms. This study is an important development for Nuclear Fuels Market as the availability of such fundamental material properties might enable scientists to manipulate UO2 fuels. This may lead to a slight increase in its heating transportation and boost the efficiency of nuclear reactors. Even if the efficiency is improved slightly, it would potentially lead to countries saving a hundred million dollars in the nuclear industry.
The essence of the study was to research fundamental properties which will help improve the performance of nuclear fuels in reactors. The crucial factor in such performance is to gather the way fuel conducts the heat generated by nuclear processes. As the fuel’s magnetism concerns its structure and atomic interactions, it gives clues of how UO2 responds to magnetic fields, strain, heat, and other environmental factors.
Researchers believe that these experiments might come in handy so that happenings that occur inside the nuclear reactor can be stimulated. In order to make the simulation and modeling very precise, it is necessary that scientists are aware of most of the material’s properties. Thus, this research helps scientists fill up critical gaps and pay dividends.
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