Several lead test rods containing our EnCore™ Fuel technology recently arrived at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in a major milestone in our accident tolerant fuel (ATF) program. Developed with high-performance features to enable safety and cost benefits for our customers, the lead test roads will be examined as part of the next step of the licensing and commercialization process.
Installed at a U.S. nuclear plant in 2019, the lead test rods were pulled after completing their inaugural cycle and prepared for shipment to ORNL. After it was removed from the reactor, visual inspections of the fuel showed no signs of degradation. ORNL will now examine the irradiated rods over the next year to support licensing efforts with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
“This shipment demonstrates the substantial progress that EnCore Fuel is making towards commercialization,” said Jeff Bradfute, Westinghouse vice president of Americas Fuel Delivery. “The examination of these high-performance features is the latest milestone on our strategic timeline to enable utilities to quickly gain the safety and cost benefits that EnCore Fuel will provide.”
The fuel rods were outfitted with our near-term EnCore Fuel solutions – chromium-coated zirconium alloy cladding and our ADOPT™ fuel pellets, which improve fuel cycle economics, enable longer operating cycles and enhance the accident tolerance of conventional fuel pellets. ADOPT fuel and chromium cladding also support higher burnup and 24-month cycle operation for high-power density plants. Longer-term solutions in the form of uranium nitride pellets and advanced silicon carbide-based cladding are also in development.
“Westinghouse continues to make incredible strides in the development of its Accident Tolerant Fuels,” said Frank Goldner, a nuclear engineer within the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy. “These fuels will have a tangible impact on the industry once deployed in the near-term and could help make our U.S. fleet more economical to operate.”
This landmark shipment is the latest achievement for our EnCore Fuel program being developed in partnership with ORNL, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the DOE and General Atomics. This latest advancement follows the previous announcement from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2020 regarding their acceptance to review Topical Report WCAP-18482-P/WCAP-18482-NP, Revision 0, “Westinghouse Advanced Doped Pellet Technology (ADOPTTM) Fuel.”
Photographer: Carlos Jones. Photos courtesy of Oak Ridge National Labs®. All rights reserved.