NE Seminar: “Leveraging Characterization for a Mechanistic Understanding of Advanced Nuclear Fuel Performance


1:50 pm-2:50 pm
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Tyler J Gerczak, Ph.D.
Nuclear Fuels Materials Group
Oak Ridge National Lab


The realization of advanced nuclear reactors requires the qualification of new fuel forms. The DOE Advanced Gas Reactor Fuel Qualification and Development (AGR) Program has undertaken an effort to qualify tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) coated particle fuel for high temperature gas reactors absent a specific reactor design. The multi-decade, applied program has re-established domestically coated particle fuel fabrication expertise and irradiation testing and post irradiation examination (PIE) capabilities. This overall effort has ultimately demonstrated excellent fuel performance relating to particle failure rates.

The implementation of a novel multi-scale PIE approach has provided a mechanistic understanding of TRISO fuel performance to support the rigorous fuel qualification data packages. This mechanistic understanding of fuel performance provides opportunity to evolve the TRISO fuel design to improve performance for HTGRs and beyond. An overview of the TRISO fuel form will be presented along with the specific examples of PIE observations informing fuel performance such as integral SiC layer failure behavior and fission product transport. The research framework established for TRISO fuels has applicability across other fuel forms and advanced reactor sites. A brief extension towards LWR UO2 evolution including understand high burnup structure formation will be discussed.


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Materials Science & Engineering Dept.