Following a planned outage, Unit 1 at the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant near Baxley in southeastern Georgia returned to service in early March outfitted with first-of-their-kind accident tolerant fuel (ATF) test assemblies. The development marks a major milestone for the advanced fuel technology, which, beyond safety benefits, could furnish the world’s light water reactor fleet with much-needed cost efficiencies to help them stay competitive.
…Framatome is working on two ATF concepts — chromium-coated cladding and chromia-doped fuel pellets. The chromia-doped pellets have a higher density and help reduce fission gas release in the event that the reactor loses cooling. Adding a chromium coating to existing zirconium-alloy cladding offers a number of advantages, including improved high-temperature oxidation resistance, dramatic reduction of hydrogen generation, coolable geometry, and mechanical properties preserved for higher coping time, and additional resistance to debris-fretting, among others, the company said. The French company reported major developments last year as it began producing chromia-doped fuel pellets at a facility in Richland, Washington, and tested them at the Idaho National Lab. In spring 2019, the company plans to install four lead test assemblies with both chromia-doped pellets and a chromium coating to the fuel rod cladding at Southern Co.’s Vogtle Unit 2. Around 2022, Framatome could also develop silicon carbide cladding containing chromia-doped fuel.
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