Within the Generation IV International Forum, the partners of the Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor System Arrangement (China, Euratom, France, Japan, Korea, the Russian Federation, The United Kingdom and the United States of America) completed an evaluation of SFR advanced fuel options. This work was based on a preliminary work performed in the GIF SFR Advanced Fuel Project. It entailed a comparison of the oxide, metal, and nitride fuel types with respect to fuel fabrication processes and fuel performances, to identify advanced fuel candidates for different applications. Additional R&D efforts were also focused on the minor actinide bearing fuels and high burnup capability evaluation.
A brief history of the use of these fuel is first given in the paper, including their major advantages regarding their use for SFRs. This is followed by a description of the SFR fuels elements for each type of fuel, and design choices explained based on fuels properties.
In the second section of the paper, the roles of the fuels in Safety Cases are presented and discussed. To achieve the fundamental safety functions, the basic SFR fuel design requirements include prevention of fuel failures, maintaining a coolable geometry, and keeping the control/safety rod/element injection channels open.
In the third part of the paper, the challenges to Fuel Qualification are presented. Irradiation and safety testing experience and data exists for standard oxide and metal fuel types, with their performance and reliability proven for burnup levels much higher than the LWR fuel, and for nitride fuel extensively studied in the Russian Federation. However, this is not the case for all fuel and cladding systems. This section ends with a summary of the current status and future challenges for qualification of each fuel type and cladding.
To conclude, it can be stated that, in general, the acquisition of fuel performance data is the most common and effective method to qualify the integrity of fuel pins and fuel subassemblies. A variety of irradiation experiments for SFR oxide, metal, and nitride fuels were identified. Yet, fast spectrum irradiation capabilities are very limited internationally, and fuel testing campaigns can require a great deal of time, effort and expense. Thus, advanced fuel performance modeling techniques simulating the fuel irradiation behavior in the reactor may play a more significant role in future fuel qualification, with the main challenge being to validate the predictability of the complex fuel performance phenomena identified for each fuel type.
|Affiliation/Organization||Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives|
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