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Title: A summary of the results from the DOE advanced gas reactor (AGR) fuel development and qualification program

Abstract

Modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) designs were developed to provide natural safety, which prevents core damage under all licensing basis events. The principle that guides their design concepts is to passively maintain core temperatures below fission product release thresholds under all accident scenarios. The required level of fuel performance and fission product retention reduces the radioactive source term by many orders of magnitude relative to source terms for other reactor types and allows a graded approach to emergency planning and the potential elimination of the need for evacuation and sheltering beyond a small exclusion area. Achieving this level, however, is predicated on exceptionally high coated-particle fuel fabrication quality and excellent performance under normal operation and accident conditions. The design goal of modular HTGRs is to meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Protective Action Guides (PAGs) for offsite dose at the Exclusion Area Boundary (EAB). To achieve this, the reactor design concepts require a level of fuel integrity that is far better than that achieved for all prior U.S.-manufactured tristructural isotropic (TRISO) coated particle fuel.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
OSTI Identifier:
1369357
Report Number(s):
INL/EXT-16-40784
TRN: US1701966
DOE Contract Number:
AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; REACTOR DESIGN; HTGR TYPE REACTORS; FISSION PRODUCTS; FUELS; PERFORMANCE; FISSION PRODUCT RELEASE; ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION; AGR; high temperature gas-cooled reactor; TRISO

Citation Formats

Petti, David Andrew. A summary of the results from the DOE advanced gas reactor (AGR) fuel development and qualification program. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2172/1369357.
Petti, David Andrew. A summary of the results from the DOE advanced gas reactor (AGR) fuel development and qualification program. United States. doi:10.2172/1369357.
Petti, David Andrew. Sat . "A summary of the results from the DOE advanced gas reactor (AGR) fuel development and qualification program". United States. doi:10.2172/1369357. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1369357.
@article{osti_1369357,
title = {A summary of the results from the DOE advanced gas reactor (AGR) fuel development and qualification program},
author = {Petti, David Andrew},
abstractNote = {Modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) designs were developed to provide natural safety, which prevents core damage under all licensing basis events. The principle that guides their design concepts is to passively maintain core temperatures below fission product release thresholds under all accident scenarios. The required level of fuel performance and fission product retention reduces the radioactive source term by many orders of magnitude relative to source terms for other reactor types and allows a graded approach to emergency planning and the potential elimination of the need for evacuation and sheltering beyond a small exclusion area. Achieving this level, however, is predicated on exceptionally high coated-particle fuel fabrication quality and excellent performance under normal operation and accident conditions. The design goal of modular HTGRs is to meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Protective Action Guides (PAGs) for offsite dose at the Exclusion Area Boundary (EAB). To achieve this, the reactor design concepts require a level of fuel integrity that is far better than that achieved for all prior U.S.-manufactured tristructural isotropic (TRISO) coated particle fuel.},
doi = {10.2172/1369357},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Technical Report:

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  • The Department of Energy has established the Advanced Gas Reactor Fuel Development and Qualification Program to address the following overall goals: Provide a baseline fuel qualification data set in support of the licensing and operation of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). Gas-reactor fuel performance demonstration and qualification comprise the longest duration research and development (R&D) task for the NGNP feasibility. The baseline fuel form is to be demonstrated and qualified for a peak fuel centerline temperature of 1250°C. Support near-term deployment of an NGNP by reducing market entry risks posed by technical uncertainties associated with fuel production and qualification.more » Utilize international collaboration mechanisms to extend the value of DOE resources. The Advanced Gas Reactor Fuel Development and Qualification Program consists of five elements: fuel manufacture, fuel and materials irradiations, postirradiation examination (PIE) and safety testing, fuel performance modeling, and fission product transport and source term evaluation. An underlying theme for the fuel development work is the need to develop a more complete fundamental understanding of the relationship between the fuel fabrication process, key fuel properties, the irradiation performance of the fuel, and the release and transport of fission products in the NGNP primary coolant system. Fuel performance modeling and analysis of the fission product behavior in the primary circuit are important aspects of this work. The performance models are considered essential for several reasons, including guidance for the plant designer in establishing the core design and operating limits, and demonstration to the licensing authority that the applicant has a thorough understanding of the in-service behavior of the fuel system. The fission product behavior task will also provide primary source term data needed for licensing. An overview of the program and recent progress will be presented.« less
  • This report summarizes the results of preliminary work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to demonstrate application of computational fluid dynamics modeling to the scale-up of a Fluidized Bed Chemical Vapor Deposition (FBCVD) process for nuclear fuels coating. Specifically, this work, referred to as Modeling Scale-Up Phase I, was conducted between January 1, 2006 and March 31, 2006 in support of the Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) Program. The objective was to develop, demonstrate and "freeze" a version of ORNL's computational model of the TRI ISOtropic (TRISO) fuel-particle coating process that can be specifically used to assist coater scale-up activities asmore » part of the production of AGR-2 fuel. The results in this report are intended to serve as input for making decisions about initiating additional FBCVD modeling work (referred to as Modeling Scale-Up Phase II) in support of AGR-2. The main computational tool used to implement the model is the general-purpose multiphase fluid-dynamics computer code known as MFIX (Multiphase Flow with Interphase eXchanges), which is documented in detail on the DOE-sponsored website http://www.mfix.org. Additional computational tools are also being developed by ORNL for post-processing MFIX output to efficiently summarize the important information generated by the coater simulations. The summarized information includes quantitative spatial and temporal measures (referred to as discriminating characteristics, or DCs) by which different coater designs and operating conditions can be compared and correlated with trends in product quality. The ORNL FBCVD modeling work is being conducted in conjunction with experimental coater studies at ORNL with natural uranium CO (NUCO) and surrogate fuel kernels. Data are also being obtained from ambient-temperature, spouted-bed characterization experiments at the University of Tennessee and theoretical studies of carbon and silicon carbide chemical vapor deposition kinetics at Iowa State University. Prior to the current scale-up activity, considerable effort has gone in to adapting the MFIX code to incorporate the unique features of fuel coating reactors and also in validating the resulting simulation features with experimental observations. Much of this work is documented in previous AGR reports and publications (Pannala et al., 2004, Pannala et al., 2005, Boyalakuntla et al., 2005a, Boyalakuntla et al., 2005b and Finney et al., 2005). As a result of the previous work described above, the ORNL coater model now has the capability for simulating full spatio-temporal details of the gas-particle hydrodynamics and gas-particle heat and mass transfer in the TRISO coater. This capability provides a great deal of information about many of the processes believed to control quality, but the model is not yet sufficiently developed to fully predict coating quality for any given coater design and/or set of operating conditions because the detailed chemical reaction kinetics needed to make the model fully predictive are not yet available. Nevertheless, the model at its current stage of development already provides the most comprehensive and detailed quantitative information available about gas flows, solid flows, temperatures, and species inside the coater during operation. This level of information ought to be highly useful in expediting the scale-up process (e.g., in correlating observations and minimizing the number of pilot-scale tests required). However, previous work had not yet demonstrated that the typical design and/or operating changes known to affect product quality at the lab scale could be clearly discriminated by the existing model. The Modeling Scale-Up Phase I work was initiated to produce such a demonstration, and two detailed examples are discussed in this report.« less
  • Modular HTGR designs were developed to provide natural safety, which prevents core damage under all design basis accidents and presently envisioned severe accidents. The principle that guides their design concepts is to passively maintain core temperatures below fission product release thresholds under all accident scenarios. This level of fuel performance and fission product retention reduces the radioactive source term by many orders of magnitude and allows potential elimination of the need for evacuation and sheltering beyond a small exclusion area. This level, however, is predicated on exceptionally high fuel fabrication quality and performance under normal operation and accident conditions. Germanymore » produced and demonstrated high quality fuel for their pebble bed HTGRs in the 1980s, but no U.S. manufactured fuel had exhibited equivalent performance prior to the Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) Fuel Development and Qualification Program. The design goal of the modular HTGRs is to allow elimination of an exclusion zone and an emergency planning zone outside the plant boundary fence, typically interpreted as being about 400 meters from the reactor. To achieve this, the reactor design concepts require a level of fuel integrity that is better than that claimed for all prior US manufactured TRISO fuel, by a few orders of magnitude. The improved performance level is about a factor of three better than qualified for German TRISO fuel in the 1980’s. At the start of the AGR program, without a reactor design concept selected, the AGR fuel program selected to qualify fuel to an operating envelope that would bound both pebble bed and prismatic options. This resulted in needing a fuel form that could survive at peak fuel temperatures of 1250°C on a time-averaged basis and high burnups in the range of 150 to 200 GWd/MTHM (metric tons of heavy metal) or 16.4 to 21.8% fissions per initial metal atom (FIMA). Although Germany has demonstrated excellent performance of TRISO-coated UO2 particle fuel up to about 10% FIMA and 1150°C, UO2 fuel is known to have limitations because of CO formation and kernel migration at the high burnups, power densities, temperatures, and temperature gradients that may be encountered in the prismatic modular HTGRs. With uranium oxycarbide (UCO) fuel, the kernel composition is engineered to prevent CO formation and kernel migration, which are key threats to fuel integrity at higher burnups, temperatures, and temperature gradients. Furthermore, the recent poor fuel performance of UO2 TRISO fuel pebbles measured in Chinese irradiation testing in Russia and in German pebbles irradiated at 1250°C, and historic data on poorer fuel performance in safety testing of German pebbles that experienced burnups in excess of 10% FIMA [1] have each raised concern about the use of UO2 TRISO above 10% FIMA and 1150°C and the degree of margin available in the fuel system. This continues to be an active area of study internationally.« less
  • The high level of safety of modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) designs is achieved by passively maintaining core temperatures below fission product release thresholds under all envisioned accident scenarios. This level of fuel performance and fission product retention reduces the radioactive source term by many orders of magnitude relative to other reactor types but is predicated on exceptionally high coated-particle fuel fabrication quality and excellent fuel performance under normal operation and accident conditions. The Advanced Gas Reactor Fuel Development and Qualification (AGR) Program decided to qualify for uranium oxide/uranium carbide (UCO) TRISO coated-particle fuel in an operating envelope thatmore » would bound both pebble bed and prismatic modular HTGR options. By using a mixture of uranium oxide and uranium carbide, the kernel composition is engineered to minimize CO formation and fuel kernel migration, which is key to maintain to fuel integrity at the higher burnups, temperatures, and temperature gradients anticipated in prismatic HTGRs. Fuel fabrication conducted at both laboratory and engineering scale has demonstrated the ability to fabricate high quality UCO TRISO fuel with very low defects. The first irradiation (AGR 1) exposed about 300,000 TRISO fuel particles to a peak burnup of 19.6% FIMA, a peak fast-neutron fluence of about 4.3 × 10 25 n/m 2, and a maximum time-averaged fuel temperature of about 1,200°C without a single particle failure. The very low release of key metallic fission products (except silver) measured in post-irradiation examination (PIE) confirms the excellent performance measured under irradiation. Very low releases have been measured in accident simulation heatup testing (''safety testing'') after hundreds of hours at 1600 and 1700°C and no particle failures (no noble gas release measured) have been observed. Even after hundreds of hours at 1800°C, the releases are still very low indicative of only a small fraction of fuel failure. The implications of these results relative to safety design and analysis and licensing will be discussed to demonstrate the margins associated with UCO TRISO fuel.« less
  • Quality Assurance Plan (QPP) is to document the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) Management and Operating (M&O) Contractor’s quality assurance program for AGR Fuel Development and Qualification activities, which is under the control of the INEEL. The QPP is an integral part of the Gen IV Program Execution Plan (PEP) and establishes the set of management controls for those systems, structures and components (SSCs) and related quality affecting activities, necessary to provide adequate confidence that items will perform satisfactorily in service.