2024 journal article

Source term analysis of FeCrAl accident tolerant fuel using MELCOR


By: U. Baker, Y. Choi*, N. Rollins n, K. Nguyen n, W. Jung, A. Whitmeyer, J. Hou n, B. Lindley

author keywords: MELCOR; FeCrAl; Accident Tolerant Fuel; LOCA
Source: Web Of Science
Added: May 13, 2024

It has been established that incremental improvements in beyond design basis accident performance can be achieved through accident tolerant fuel (ATF). However, they have the potential to recover margin with respect to conventional fuel and therefore enhance plant economics through uprate or cycle length increase. To realize this potential, it is necessary to quantify the reduction in source term due to use of ATF, and correspondingly how this is affected by increasing the cycle length and/or burnup. This requires development of a risk informed analysis methodology for ATF under high burnup conditions, which is being developed within LWRS. To this end, a MELCOR simulation of FeCrAl ATF in a recovered Large Break LOCA (LBLOCA) scenario has been developed, using a model based on the Zion Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). The new user defined material capability, along with the inclusion of detailed neutronics- and depletion-derived parameters such as core power distribution, decay heat behavior, and fission product inventories, allows a more detailed simulation of FeCrAl clad material properties and behavior than has previously been possible using MELCOR. These detailed FeCrAl results were compared with a zircaloy clad model to investigate the differences between the two clad types and quantify the benefits of FeCrAl ATF with an 18-month cycle. Next, the fuel cycle with ATF was extended to 24 months, to determine whether any additional safety margin provided by FeCrAl ATF could be leveraged to implement high burnup FeCrAl-clad fuel while retaining the same operating and safety limits as current zircaloy-clad fuel. For the particular scenario analyzed, the delay to fuel failure from using ATF was of the same order as the LOCA recovery time, and hence significant in reducing fission product release, with the 24-month FeCrAl core performing better than the 18-month zircaloy core. It is noted that for other transients, the reduction in release due to using FeCrAl may be less significant. The material model developed here can be used in such further studies in support of determining the overall source term.