MSE 2016 - Full Program

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Using FeCrAl Cladding for High Performance Fuel in Light Power Reactors

Tuesday (27.09.2016)
16:45 - 17:00
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In the five years since the tsunami induced plant black out incident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plants in March 2011, the international materials community is looking for alternative ways to make the nuclear power plants safer to severe accidents. In the USA, the Department of Energy is partnering with fuel vendors to develop enhanced accident tolerant nuclear fuels. In comparison with the standard current UO2–Zirconium alloy system, the proposed alternative should better tolerate loss of cooling in the core for a considerably longer time while maintaining or improving the fuel performance during normal operation conditions. General Electric is proposing to replace zirconium based alloy cladding in current commercial power reactors with FeCrAl cladding such as APMT, while keeping the current uranium dioxide fuel. Extensive laboratory testing is currently underway to characterize FeCrAl alloys as valid candidates for the fuel cladding. FeCrAl ferritic alloys are extremely resistant to stress corrosion cracking in high temperature water typical of both boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors environments. Under accident conditions (T > 1000°C), FeCrAl alloys such as APMT are over three orders of magnitude more resistant than zirconium alloys to attack by steam, therefore producing smaller amounts of hydrogen and exothermic heat of oxidation. The use of FeCrAl alloys cladding will greatly reduce the risk of operating the light water power reactors for the production of electricity.

Raul Rebak
GE Global Research