A High Temperature, non-TRISO Fuel and Clad Design with Commercial-Grade Enrichment for the Prismatic Block Very High Temperature Reactor

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The prismatic block Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) is a leading Generation IV reactor concept. This reactor with its relatively low core power density and large graphite mass currently satisfies the fundamental goals of the Generation IV charter. However, modifications can be made to the fuel and clad design, such that (1) VHTR uranium enrichment can be lowered to near commercial-grade pressurized water reactor (PWR) enrichments, (2) fuel burnups are extended, and (3) the thermal safety margin under transient conditions is increased. This paper outlines a possible fuel and clad design concept for use in a VHTR prismatic block core ... continued below

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Sterbentz, James W. November 1, 2005.

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The prismatic block Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) is a leading Generation IV reactor concept. This reactor with its relatively low core power density and large graphite mass currently satisfies the fundamental goals of the Generation IV charter. However, modifications can be made to the fuel and clad design, such that (1) VHTR uranium enrichment can be lowered to near commercial-grade pressurized water reactor (PWR) enrichments, (2) fuel burnups are extended, and (3) the thermal safety margin under transient conditions is increased. This paper outlines a possible fuel and clad design concept for use in a VHTR prismatic block core which could lead to substantial improvements in overall VHTR economics and sustainability. The results of depletion calculations here will demonstrate comparable burnup between the new fuel and clad design with only 4-6 wt% enriched uranium and the current higher enriched 10-20 wt% VHTR fuel design. In addition, the new fuel and clad design concept uses high-temperature ceramic fuel and clad materials that have the potential to significantly increase the thermal margin under VHTR transient conditions. The current fuel block design for the VHTR is the hexagonal Fort Saint Vrain (FSV) fuel block with 108 coolant channels, 210 fuel rods, and six burnable poison holes drilled axially in the block. This basic FSV block is also part of the new design concept here. The basic hexagonal block dimensions remain fixed with only the fuel pellet and clad materials and radii changed. Further optimizations of the fuel block are in progress. Currently, the proposed nuclear fuel for the prismatic VHTR is the well-known TRISO-coated particle fuel. The TRISO-coated particle offers a nice spherical, high-integrity pressure vessel containment for the fission gases (SiC layer). However, due to the multiple particle coating layers, the fuel kernel represents only 9.4% of the total particle volume (350 {micro}m kernel diameter particle) and together with the 35% packing fraction limitation in the fuel compacts, uranium loading in the fuel rods is not only very inefficient but, at VHTR uranium loadings, results in a strongly under-moderated condition in the core that translates into a large reactivity and burnup penalty.

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  • American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting,Washington, D.C.,11/13/2005,11/17/2005

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  • Report No.: INL/CON-05-00707
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-99ID-13727
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 911802
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc888858

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  • November 1, 2005

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Nov. 7, 2016, 5:27 p.m.

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Sterbentz, James W. A High Temperature, non-TRISO Fuel and Clad Design with Commercial-Grade Enrichment for the Prismatic Block Very High Temperature Reactor, article, November 1, 2005; [Idaho Falls, Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc888858/: accessed October 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.