Author Topic: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record  (Read 2259 times)

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Offline Thor

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Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« on: November 18, 2009, 10:38:05 AM »
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Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record

ScienceDaily (Nov. 18, 2009) — Idaho National Laboratory (INL) scientists have set a new world record with next-generation particle fuel for use in high temperature gas reactors (HTGRs).

The Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) Fuel Program, initiated by the Department of Energy in 2002, used INL's unique Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) in a nearly three-year experiment to subject more than 300,000 nuclear fuel particles to an intense neutron field and temperatures around 1,250 degrees Celsius.

INL researchers say the fuel experiment set the record for particle fuel by consuming approximately 19 percent of its low-enriched uranium -- more than double the previous record set by similar experiments run by German scientists in the 1980s and more than three times that achieved by current light water reactor (LWR) fuel. Additionally, none of the fuel particles experienced failure since entering the extreme neutron irradiation test environment of the ATR in December 2006.

"This level of performance is a major accomplishment," said Dr. David Petti, Director of the Very High Temperature Reactor Technology Development Office at the U.S. Department of Energy's INL. The purpose of the fuel program is to develop this particle fuel, produce experimental data that demonstrates to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the fuel is robust and safe, and re-establish a U.S. fuel manufacturing capability for high temperature gas reactors. INL has been working with Babcock and Wilcox Inc., General Atomics and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to establish standards and procedures for the manufacture of commercial-scale HTGR fuel. The overarching goal of the AGR Fuel Program is to qualify coated nuclear fuel particles for use in HTGRs such as the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). Developing particle fuel capable of achieving very high burnup levels will also reduce the amount of used fuel that is generated by HTGRs.

"An important part of our mission is the development and exploration of advanced nuclear science and technology," said Dr. Warren F. "Pete" Miller, assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy. "This achievement is an important step as we work to enable the next generation of reactors, decrease fossil fuel use in industrial applications, make fuel cycles more sustainable, and reduce proliferation risks."

"AGR-1" is the first of eight similar experiments which aim to confirm designs and fabrication processes and performance characteristics for such fuel. Future AGR fuel tests will include particle fuel produced on a prototypic industrial scale to further prove the irradiation performance of the NGNP-specific fuel design. The 18-foot-long AGR-1 experiment was inserted in INL's ATR core and allowed for each of six capsules containing the particle fuel specimens to be monitored and controlled separately. Inside the ATR core, the fuel specimens were subjected to neutron irradiation many times higher than what they would experience inside an HTGR or a current light water reactor, allowing INL researchers to gain irradiation performance data for nuclear fuel and materials in a shorter time. The team is monitoring the AGR fuel for a number of factors including "burn-up," which is a measurement of the percent of uranium fuel that has undergone fission reactions.

Although the experiment has now left the ATR, researchers still have more work to do before the AGR-1 test campaign will be finished. Post irradiation examination (PIE) will begin at INL and ORNL facilities and allow scientists to examine the fuel up close so that the fuel and its layers of coatings can be evaluated for degradation patterns and other characteristics. In addition, controlled higher temperature testing in furnaces is planned to determine the safety performance of the fuel under postulated accident conditions. These activities will last another two years.

The Next Generation Nuclear Plant Program aims to use a high temperature gas reactor to produce high temperature process heat and hydrogen used by many industrial facilities in daily operations and to support the broader goal of developing the next generation of nuclear power systems that provide abundant carbon-free electricity on a 24/7 basis. Excellent fuel irradiation performance must be demonstrated before high temperature gas reactors can be licensed and co-located with these complementary industrial facilities. Reaching this world record peak burn-up of 19 percent without any particle failure demonstrates the robustness of this particle fuel design.

Perhaps this will lead the US to establishing MORE Nuclear Power Plants ??
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Offline Wineslob

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2009, 10:47:41 AM »
I'm sure the anti-nuke crowd will raise hell and kill it.   :p
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Offline NHSparky

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2009, 11:06:31 AM »
Interesting, but is 1250 deg C really that necessary?
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Offline Thor

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2009, 11:23:12 AM »
Interesting, but is 1250 deg C really that necessary?

YOU'RE the Nuke here!!!  You tell US!!! Perhaps that temp uses up the fuel  and reduces any problems?? I dunno.
"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."- IBID

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Offline NHSparky

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2009, 11:28:22 AM »
YOU'RE the Nuke here!!!  You tell US!!!

I'd have to look at it more.  Basically, what's the MWth versus MWe outputs?  What kind of materials are we talking?  What would the construction costs be?  Maintenance, etc?

1250 deg C can melt gold and copper, not to mention most steel alloys.  Do we really want a Titanium/Nickel/Tungsten reactor vessel?  Sounds a bit pricey to me.

While I'm impressed that the fuel can handle the irradiation issue, that's only one aspect.  Sounds like they're still a long way from any sort of larger-scale commercial use.
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Offline Chris_

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2009, 12:58:55 PM »
Interesting, but is 1250 deg C really that necessary?

I'm sorta with you.....either the high operating temperatures are necessary to increase the level of fuel consumption, or they are attempting to increase the output of the system through higher levels of expansion of the coolant.......

If the idea is to reduce the amount of radioactive waste in the spent fuel.......why are we not continuing the research on "fast breeder" type reactors, where the fuel can ultimately be reused again and again with little or no waste (discounting that the ultimate product is "weapons grade" material).........

doc
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Offline Thor

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2009, 01:36:20 PM »
I wish that the scientists would work harder on developing fusion energy, with NO waste. Fission is good, but it does leave waste material that we have to somehow dispose of. Perhaps, if they can't get fusion to work, they could work on a better way to reutilize what waste that is produced.
"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."- IBID

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Offline LC EFA

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2009, 03:40:40 PM »
I wish that the scientists would work harder on developing fusion energy, with NO waste. Fission is good, but it does leave waste material that we have to somehow dispose of. Perhaps, if they can't get fusion to work, they could work on a better way to reutilize what waste that is produced.

Ideally we want to break one of the golden rules and come up with a way to convert (any) mass directly into energy.

Offline Chris_

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Re: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Sets Global Performance Record
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2009, 01:31:14 PM »
I wish that the scientists would work harder on developing fusion energy, with NO waste. Fission is good, but it does leave waste material that we have to somehow dispose of. Perhaps, if they can't get fusion to work, they could work on a better way to reutilize what waste that is produced.

First, there is a lot of research ongoing on fusion reactors of several designs........however, the problem that has evaded a reasonable solution is how to effectively contain the reaction, without the containment process consuming more energy than the reactor produces......

doc
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