What is Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF)

Accident tolerant fuel designs can tolerate loss of active cooling in the reactor core for longer time periods in light water reactors while maintaining or improving fuel performance during normal operations. ATF fuels should:

  • Reduce hydrogen generation
  • Enhance fission product retention under severe conditions
  • Reduce cladding reaction with high-temperature steam
  • Improve fuel-cladding interaction for performance under extreme conditions

U.S. Department of Energy Accident Tolerant Fuel Program

After the Fukushima accident in March 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognized the need to evaluate light water reactor (LWR) nuclear fuels and develop ATF designs. Starting in 2012, the DOE ATF program sponsored three industry-based teams to explore different fuel design options. For these designs, the DOE requires that ATF fuels:

  • Give nuclear power plant operators more “coping time” to manage an accident situation (i.e., an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, etc.)
  • Are deployable on or prior to 2022
  • Maintain or improve performance during normal operations

Some of the technologies being pursued include coatings on the existing Zirconium cladding used for fuel rods, development of alternative claddings such as Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Molybdenum-based cladding, FeCrAl alloy cladding and additives to uranium pellets. Three teams, comprising several leading U.S. laboratories, university researchers and utility companies, were formed with Framatome, Westinghouse and General Electric to explore these designs. In 2016, DOE prioritized between industry leaders’ concepts and ideas that have been developed. The selected EATF designs are scheduled for deployment as lead fuel assemblies (LFAs) or lead fuel rods (LFRs) in a commercial power reactor by 2022.

Benefits of EATF

  • Increased temperature resistance
  • Increased coping time
  • More affordable, sustainable operations
  • Optimized safety systems and operations

Additional Information