AREVA NP yesterday said four lead test assemblies featuring chromia additions to the fuel pellets and a chromium coating to the fuel rod cladding will be loaded into Vogtle unit 2 in spring 2019. The company will begin manufacturing the chromia-doped fuel pellets at its facility in Richland, Washington, later this year.
John Williams, nuclear fuel director for Southern Nuclear Operating Company, which operates Vogtle on behalf of Georgia Power and the plant’s other co-owners, said advanced technology fuel assemblies would make plants “even safer” and result in more flexible operations. “This game-changing technology is not a small step, but a leap for our industry,” he said.
The fuel technology aims to offer reactor operators more time to respond in emergency situations. Chromia-doped fuel pellets have a higher density and help to reduce fission gas release should a reactor lose cooling. The addition of a chromium coating to the fuel’s existing zirconium alloy cladding offers advantages including improved resistance to oxidation at high temperatures, the reduction of hydrogen generation, and resistance to wear.
Earlier this year AREVA advanced to the second phase of the DOE’s EATF program after four years of initial research to identify promising new technologies.
View the full story at World Nuclear News.