2023 journal article
Fuel performance uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis in the presence of epistemic and aleatoric sources of uncertainties
FRONTIERS IN ENERGY RESEARCH, 11.
Fuel performance modeling and simulation includes many uncertain parameters from models to boundary conditions, manufacturing parameters and material properties. These parameters exhibit large uncertainties and can have an epistemic or aleatoric nature, something that renders fuel performance code-to-code and code-to-measurements comparisons for complex phenomena such as the pellet cladding mechanical interaction (PCMI) very challenging. Additionally, PCMI and other complex phenomena found in fuel performance modeling and simulation induce strong discontinuities and non-linearities that can render difficult to extract meaningful conclusions form uncertainty quantification (UQ) and sensitivity analysis (SA) studies. In this work, we develop and apply a consistent treatment of epistemic and aleatoric uncertainties for both UQ and SA in fuel performance calculations and use historical benchmark-quality measurement data to demonstrate it. More specifically, the developed methodology is applied to the OECD/NEA Multi-physics Pellet Cladding Mechanical Interaction Validation benchmark. A cold ramp test leading to PCMI is modeled. Two measured quantities of interest are considered: the cladding axial elongation during the irradiations and the cladding outer diameter after the cold ramp. The fuel performance code used to perform the simulation is FAST. The developed methodology involves various steps including a Morris screening to decrease the number of uncertain inputs, a nested loop approach for propagating the epistemic and aleatoric sources of uncertainties, and a global SA using Sobol indices. The obtained results indicate that the fuel and cladding thermal conductivities as well as the cladding outer diameter uncertainties are the three inputs having the largest impact on the measured quantities. More importantly, it was found that the epistemic uncertainties can have a significant impact on the measured quantities and can affect the outcome of the global sensitivity analysis.