Irradiation performance of (Th,Pu)O2 fuel under Pressurized Water Reactor conditions

Brian Boer, Sergei Lemehov, Marcel Wéber, Yves Parthoens, Mireille Gysemans, John McGinley, Joseph Somers, Marc Verwerft

Research outputpeer-review


This paper examines the in-pile safety performance of (Th,Pu)O2 fuel pins under simulated Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) conditions. Both sol–gel and SOLMAS produced (Th,Pu)O2 fuels at enrichments of 7.9% and 12.8% in Pu/HM have been irradiated at SCK·CEN. The irradiation has been performed under PWR conditions (155 bar, 300 °C) in a dedicated loop of the BR-2 reactor. The loop is instrumented with flow and temperature monitors at inlet and outlet, which allow for an accurate measurement of the deposited enthalpy. Between 2004 and 2006, four fuel segments were irradiated, with on-line recording of centerline temperature and rod pressure of the two instrumented rods and intermittent non-destructive hot-cell investigations of the other two non-instrumented rods. At the end of 2006, the instrumented rods were unloaded for hot-cell investigations. The hot-cell investigations reduced uncertainties in the power history to build a reliable and consistent irradiation history which can be used to assess and validate fuel performance codes. The on-line recorded temperatures of the instrumented rods are presented in this paper and are compared to corresponding calculations on the basis of the power history. One of the non-instrumented rods was re-inserted in the reactor in 2012 and attained a peak burnup level of 37 GWd/tHM by the end of 2014. The combined data set of on-line measurements and post irradiation examinations enables further code validation. In this context, the results of the in-house MACROS code of SCK·CEN have been compared with the experimental results. The code contains dedicated (Th,Pu)O2 models for the calculation of the thermal conductivity as a function of the burnup and models that determine the radial power profile within the pellet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016

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