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Title: The potential impact of enhanced accident tolerant cladding materials on reactivity initiated accidents in light water reactors

Here, advanced cladding materials with potentially enhanced accident tolerance will yield different light-water-reactor performance and safety characteristics than the present zirconium-based cladding alloys. These differences are due to cladding material properties, reactor physics, thermal, and hydraulic characteristics. Differences in reactors physics characteristics are driven by the fundamental properties (e.g., absorption in iron for an iron-based cladding) and also by design modifications necessitated by the candidate cladding materials (e.g., a larger fuel pellet to compensate for parasitic absorption). Potential changes in thermal hydraulic limits after transition from the current zirconium alloy cladding to the advanced materials will also affect the transient response of the integral fuel. This paper describes three-dimensional nodal kinetics simulations of a reactivity-initiated accident (RIA) in a representative state-of-the-art pressurized water reactor with both nuclear-grade iron-chromium-aluminum (FeCrAl) and silicon-carbide (SiC-SiC)-based cladding materials. The impact of candidate cladding materials on the reactor kinetics behavior of RIA progression versus that of reference Zr cladding is predominantly due to differences in (1) fuel mass/volume/specific power density, (2) spectral effects due to parasitic neutron absorption, (3) control rod worth due to hardened (or softened) spectrum, and (4) initial conditions due to power peaking and neutron transport cross sections in the equilibrium cyclemore » cores resulting from hardened (or softened) spectrum. This study shows similar behavior for SiC-SiC-based cladding configurations on the transient response versus reference Zircaloy cladding. However, the FeCrAl cladding response indicates similar energy deposition, but with significantly shorter pulses of higher magnitude. This is due to the shorter neutron generation time of the models with FeCrAl cladding. Therefore, the FeCrAl-based cases have a more rapid fuel thermal expansion rate, and the resultant pellet-cladding interaction may occur more rapidly. This study shows that cladding material and fuel design make a difference for RIA response, including for both core response as well as for fuel response.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Annals of Nuclear Energy (Oxford)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Annals of Nuclear Energy (Oxford); Journal Volume: 99; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0306-4549
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; transient testing; reactivity initiated accident; fuel thermal expansion