2018 | AFC ACCOMPLISHMENTS 104 HFIR in the summer of 2018 and will be ready for postirradiation examination (PIE) by the end of the year. A major emphasis of this project has been development of the PIE methods that will be used to obtain results on the irradiation behavior of these and future MiniFuel specimens. Accomplishments: The procedure at ORNL for disas- sembly, fuel specimen retrieval, post irradiation analysis of the fission product behavior, and microstructural characterization of the MiniFuel specimens has been established.The process for disassembly was formu- lated to ensure retrieval of the small specimens given the visual limita- tions that exist in various cells at the Irradiated Fuels and Examination Laboratory (IFEL) hot cell facility.The cutting procedure includes cutting the sub-capsule while in a vertical orientation, capping the sub-capsule, and transferring it to a cell which is equipped with a vacuum needle handling tool and a stereo micro- scope for fuel retrieval. A cutting fixture and cap have been designed specifically for use with the MiniFuel design and are shown in Figure 1. The cutting methods have been tested and verified as capable of ensuring the specimens are kept in-tact until final retrieval. Fission gas release is an important parameter used to analyze the fission product behavior in irradiated fuels. A fission gas puncture system, which was previously used on full-length fuel rods at ORNL, has been adapted for use with the MiniFuel design to measure the fission gas release of the specimens.The main modification consisted of designing a gas puncture unit with the dedicated purpose of puncturing the MiniFuel sub-capsule. Figure 1 shows the gas puncture unit out-of-cell during testing and the puncture tool, which has a 45° heat treated A2 steel tip that is screw- driven into the sub-capsule until puncture occurs.The gas puncture unit and flow system functions have been demonstrated successfully on un-irradiated sub-capsules. Development of novel PIE methods optimized for miniature fuel volumes as used by the MiniFuel project will provide valuable screening and separate effects data on currently existing and novel nuclear fuels.