GNF, a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi, said the unfueled IronClad lead test rods and fueled Armor lead test rods, the first to be installed in a commercial reactor, successfully completed a 24-month fuel cycle at the Hatch nuclear power station in Georgia. They are the first commercially operated samples from the ATF programme to undergo national laboratory evaluation.
The testing at Oak Ridge is an important step in the commercialasation of advanced fuel technologies, GNF said.
The assemblies were developed as part of the DOE’s ATF programme and manufactured at GNF’s facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. Oak Ridge National Laboratory will perform tests and analysis on the post-commercially operated fuel rods to further characterise material properties. Testing will include visual inspections, microscopy and measurements of the thickness, corrosion and other mechanical and material properties of the cladding.
GNF said data will be used to determine the performance benefits of the materials and support the licensing of new fuel technologies with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The industry is pursuing the licensing and full commercial deployment of ATF by the mid-2020s.
GNF said its IronClad solution is designed to provide substantial oxidation resistance and superior material behaviour over a range of conditions. The low oxidation rates of this material at higher temperatures further improve safety limit margins.
The company said Armor coated zirconium cladding improves protection of fuel rods against debris fretting. It also provides oxidation resistance and superior material behaviour.