Iron-chrome-aluminum alloy cladding for increasing safety in nuclear power plants
GE Global Research, 1 Research Circle, Schenectady,
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Received in final form: 25 September 2017
Accepted: 7 November 2017
Published online: 12 December 2017
After a tsunami caused plant black out at Fukushima, followed by hydrogen explosions, the US Department of Energy partnered with fuel vendors to study safer alternatives to the current UO2-zirconium alloy system. This accident tolerant fuel alternative should better tolerate loss of cooling in the core for a considerably longer time while maintaining or improving the fuel performance during normal operation conditions. General electric, Oak ridge national laboratory, and their partners are proposing to replace zirconium alloy cladding in current commercial light water power reactors with an iron-chromium-aluminum (FeCrAl) cladding such as APMT or C26M. Extensive testing and evaluation is being conducted to determine the suitability of FeCrAl under normal operation conditions and under severe accident conditions. Results show that FeCrAl has excellent corrosion resistance under normal operation conditions and FeCrAl is several orders of magnitude more resistant than zirconium alloys to degradation by superheated steam under accident conditions, generating less heat of oxidation and lower amount of combustible hydrogen gas. Higher neutron absorption and tritium release effects can be minimized by design changes. The implementation of FeCrAl cladding is a near term solution to enhance the safety of the current fleet of commercial light water power reactors.
© R.B. Rebak, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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