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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, Ontario, Canada K7K 7B4
john.bell@rmc.ca

P. K. CHAN

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

A. PRUDIL

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

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039778 History: Received June 30, 2017; Revised February 25, 2018

Abstract

Thorium-based fuel cycles can improve fuel sustainability within the nuclear power industry. The Canadian Super-Critical Water-cooled Reactor (SCWR) concept uses this path to achieve the sustainability requirement of the Gen-IV Forum. The study of ThO2-based fuel irradiation behaviour is significantly less advanced than that of 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 Modelling Tool (FAST), a fuel performance model for uranium dioxide (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 Multi-Pellet Material Fuel and Sheath Modelling Tool (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 modelling results with post-irradiation 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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