Fuel Fabrication for Surrogate Sphere-Pac Rodlet

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Sphere-pac fuel consists of a blend of spheres of two or three different size fractions contained in a fuel rod. The smear density of the sphere-pac fuel column can be adjusted to the values obtained for light-water reactor (LWR) pellets (91-95%) by using three size fractions, and to values typical of the fast-reactor oxide fuel column ({approx}85%) by using two size fractions. For optimum binary packing, the diameters of the two sphere fractions must differ by at least a factor of 7 (ref. 3). Blending of spheres with smaller-diameter ratios results in difficult blending, nonuniform loading, and lower packing fractions. ... continued below

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Del Cul, G.D. July 19, 2005.

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Description

Sphere-pac fuel consists of a blend of spheres of two or three different size fractions contained in a fuel rod. The smear density of the sphere-pac fuel column can be adjusted to the values obtained for light-water reactor (LWR) pellets (91-95%) by using three size fractions, and to values typical of the fast-reactor oxide fuel column ({approx}85%) by using two size fractions. For optimum binary packing, the diameters of the two sphere fractions must differ by at least a factor of 7 (ref. 3). Blending of spheres with smaller-diameter ratios results in difficult blending, nonuniform loading, and lower packing fractions. A mixture of about 70 vol% coarse spheres and 30 vol% fine spheres is needed to obtain high packing fractions. The limiting smear density for binary packing is 86%, with about 82% achieved in practice. Ternary packing provides greater smear densities, with theoretical values ranging from 93 to 95%. Sphere-pac technology was developed in the 1960-1990 period for thermal and fast spectrum reactors of nearly all types (U-Th and U-Pu fuel cycles, oxide and carbide fuels), but development of this technology was most strongly motivated by the need for remote fabrication in the thorium fuel cycle. The application to LWR fuels as part of the DOE Fuel Performance Improvement Program did not result in commercial deployment for a number of reasons, but the relatively low production cost of existing UO{sub 2} pellet fuel is probably the most important factor. In the case of transmutation fuels, however, sphere-pac technology has the potential to be a lower-cost alternative while also offering great flexibility in tailoring the fuel elements to match the exact requirements of any particular reactor core at any given time in the cycle. In fact, the blend of spheres can be adjusted to offer a different composition for each fuel pin or group of pins in a given fuel element. Moreover, it can even provide a vertical gradient of composition in a single fuel pin. For minor-actinide-bearing fuels, the sphere-pac form is likely to accept the large helium release from {sup 241}Am transmutation with less difficulty than pellet forms and is especially well suited to remote fabrication as a dustless fuel form that requires a minimum number of mechanical operations. The sphere-pac (and vi-pac) fuel forms are being explored for use as a plutonium-burning fuel by the European Community, the Russian Federation, and Japan. Sphere-pac technology supports flexibility in the design and fabrication of fuels. For example, the blend composition can be any combination of fissile, fertile, transmutation, and inert components. Since the blend of spheres can be used to fill any geometric form, nonconventional fuel geometries (e.g., annular fuels rods, or annular pellets with the central region filled with spheres) are readily fabricated using sphere-pac loading methods. A project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI), has been initiated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with the objective of conducting the research and development necessary to evaluate sphere-pac fuel for transmutation in thermal and fast-spectrum reactors. This AFCI work is unique in that it targets minor actinide transmutation and explores the use of a resin-loading technology for the fabrication of the remote-handled minor actinide fraction. While there are extensive data on sphere-pac fuel performance for both thermal-spectrum and fast-spectrum reactors, there are few data with respect to their use as a transmutation fuel. The sphere-pac fuels developed will be tested as part of the AFCI LWR-2 irradiations. This report provides a review of development efforts related to the fabrication of a sphere-pac rodlet containing surrogate fuel materials. The eventual goal of this activity is to develop a robust process that can be used to fabricate fuels or targets containing americium. The report also provides a review of the materials, methods, and techniques to be used in the fabrication of the surrogate fuel rodlet that will also be used in the actual LWR-2 irradiation specimen.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2005/108
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/885986 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 885986
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc891589

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  • July 19, 2005

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 23, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

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  • Dec. 7, 2016, 11:49 a.m.

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Del Cul, G.D. Fuel Fabrication for Surrogate Sphere-Pac Rodlet, report, July 19, 2005; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc891589/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.