Westinghouse Electric Company has launched its accident-tolerant fuel solution, EnCore Fuel. The announcement was made during the company’s Fuel Users’ Group Meeting, attended by nuclear fuel customers from around the world.
Michele DeWitt, Senior Vice President, Nuclear Fuel with Westinghouse, said: “Westinghouse is aggressively pursuing the benefits of accident tolerant fuel for our customers. As the leading supplier of nuclear fuel and components globally, we have developed a world-class network of research, design, and manufacturing partners. We are leveraging the breadth and depth of our resources, combined with US Department of Energy awards, as well as utility funding, to collaborate with respected industry partners in order to deliver EnCore fuel to the market. We are on track to manufacture EnCore Fuel lead test rods in 2018, with lead test assembly insertion planned to start in 2022.”
EnCore Fuel is intended to offer design-basis-altering safety, greater uranium efficiency, and estimated economic benefits. Delivered in two phases, the initial EnCore Fuel product is comprised of coated cladding containing uranium silicide pellets, which sets EnCore Fuel apart from other accident-tolerant fuel solutions because of the pellets’ higher density and higher thermal conductivity. The reduced oxidation and hydrogen pickup of the coated cladding during normal operation is intended to prolong cladding life, provide enhanced resistance to wear, and increase margins.
The coated cladding also supports extended exposure to high temperature steam and air during loss of coolant accident (LOCA), reactivity-initiated accident (RIA), and beyond design basis conditions.
The second phase of EnCore Fuel features silicon carbide (SiC) cladding, which is intended to offer significant safety benefits in beyond design basis accident scenarios, enabled by its extremely high melting point (2800°C or higher) and minimal reaction with water, resulting in minimal generation of heat and hydrogen in these scenarios.