In the aftermath of Fukushima, a focus of the DOE-NE Advanced Fuels Campaign has been the development of advanced nuclear fuel and cladding options with the potential for improved performance in an accident. Uranium dioxide (UO2) fuels with various advanced cladding materials were analyzed to provide a reference for cladding performance impacts. For advanced cladding options with UO2 fuel, most of the cladding materials have some reactivity and discharge burn-up penalty (in GWd/t). Silicon carbide is one exception in that the reactor physics performance is predicted to be very similar to zirconium alloy cladding. Most candidate claddings performed similar to UO2-Zr fuel-cladding in terms of safety coefficients. The clear exception is that Mo-based materials were identified as potentially challenging from a reactor physics perspective due to high resonance absorption. This paper also includes evaluation of UN-U3Si5 fuels with Kanthal AF or APMT cladding. The objective of the U3Si5 phase in the UN-U3Si5 fuel concept is to shield the nitride phase from water. It was shown that UN-U3Si5 fuels with Kanthal AF or APMT cladding have similar reactor physics and fuel management performance over a wide parameter space of phase fractions when compared to UO2-Zr fuel-cladding. There will be a marginal penalty in discharge burn-up (in GWd/t) and the sensitivity to 14N content in UN ceramic composites is high. Analysis of the rim effect due to self-shielding in the fuel shows that the UN-based ceramic fuels are not expected to have significantly different relative burn-up distributions at discharge relative to the UO2 reference fuel. However, the overall harder spectrum in the UN ceramic composite fuels increases transuranic build-up, which will increase long-term activity in a once-thru fuel cycle but is expected to be a significant advantage in a fuel cycle with continuous recycling of transuranic material. It is recognized that the fuel and cladding properties assumed in these assessments are preliminary, and that additional data are necessary for these materials, most significantly under irradiation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Materials Science(all)
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering