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Research Papers

A Thoria and Thorium Uranium Dioxide Nuclear Fuel Performance Model Prototype and Knowledge Gap Assessment

[+] Author and Article Information
J. S. Bell

Department of Chemistry
and Chemical Engineering,
Royal Military College of Canada,
P.O. Box 17000,
Station Forces,
Kingston, ON K7K 7B4, Canada
e-mail: john.s.bell@cnl.ca

P. K. Chan

Department of Chemistry
and Chemical Engineering,
Royal Military College of Canada,
P.O. Box 17000,
Station Forces,
Kingston, ON K7K 7B4, Canada
e-mail: Paul.Chan@rmc.ca

A. Prudil

Department of Chemistry
and Chemical Engineering,
Royal Military College of Canada,
Station Forces,
P.O. Box 17000
Kingston, ON K7K 7B4, Canada
e-mail: Andrew.Prudil@cnl.ca

1Corresponding author.

2Present address: Nuclear Safety Experiments Branch, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Chalk River, ON K0J 1J0, Canada.

3Present address: Computational Techniques Branch, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Chalk River, ON K0J IJ0, Canada.

Manuscript received June 30, 2017; final manuscript received February 25, 2018; published online January 24, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Jovica R. Riznic.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 5(1), 011005 (Jan 24, 2019) (12 pages) Paper No: NERS-17-1064; doi: 10.1115/1.4039778 History: Received June 30, 2017; Revised February 25, 2018

Thorium-based fuel cycles can improve fuel sustainability within the nuclear power industry. The Canadian supercritical water-cooled reactor (SCWR) concept uses this path to achieve the sustainability requirement of the Gen-IV Forum. The study of thorium dioxide/thoria ThO2-based fuel irradiation behavior is significantly less advanced than that of uranium dioxide (UO2) fuel, although ThO2 possesses superior thermal conductivity, thermal expansion, higher melting temperature, and oxidation resistance that may improve both fuel performance and safety. The fuel and sheath modeling tool (FAST), a fuel performance model for UO2 fuel, was developed at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC). FAST capability has been extended to include thoria (ThO2), thorium uranium dioxide (Th,U)O2, and thorium plutonium dioxide (Th,Pu)O2 as fuel pellet materials, to aid in designing and performance assessment of Th-based fuels, including SCWR (Th,Pu)O2 fuel. The development and integration of ThO2 and (Th,U)O2 models into the existing FAST model led to the multipellet material FAST (MPM-FAST). Model development was performed in collaboration between RMCC and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). This paper presents an outline of the ThO2 and (Th,U)O2 MPM-FAST model, a comparison between modeling results with postirradiation examination (PIE) data from a test conducted at CNL, and an account of the knowledge gap between our ability to model ThO2 and (Th,U)O2 fuel compared to UO2. Results are encouraging when compared to PIE data.

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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Fuel-cross section with overlaid boundary conditions (left) and the MPM-FAST model geometry and mesh (right) [17]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Power histories for DME-221 ThO2 fueled elements, with low exit burnup ∼1.30 × 1012 J/kgHE and high exit burnup ∼2.23 × 1012 J/kgHE [18]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Power histories for DME-221 (Th,U)O2 1.0 wt % U-235 fueled elements, with low exit burnup ∼ 1.8 × 1012 J/kgHE and high exit burnup ∼ 3.0 × 1012 J/kgHE [18]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Power histories for DME-221 (Th,U)O2 1.5 wt % U-235 fueled elements, with low exit burnup <2.2 × 1012 J/kgHE and high exit burnup >3.2 × 1012 J/kgHE [18]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Comparison of thermal conductivity correlations used in each case for 1.5% U-235 DME-221 fuel

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6:

Comparison of %FGR modeling results to the measurement range from PIE data from DME-221. A—ThO2 elements, B—1.0% U-235 enriched elements, and C—1.5% U-235 enriched elements with the dashed lines representing the measurement range.

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