Westinghouse Electric Company has launched an accident-tolerant fuel solution, EnCoreTM Fuel, and hopes to manufacture lead test rods as early as next year.
EnCore Fuel is intended to offer design-basis-altering safety, greater uranium efficiency and could save utilities hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Westinghouse.
“We are leveraging the breadth and depth of our resources, combined with US Department of Energy awards, as well as utility funding, to collaborate with respected industry partners to deliver EnCore Fuel to the market on an aggressive, accelerated schedule,” said Michele DeWitt, senior vice president, Nuclear Fuel. “We are on track to manufacture EnCore Fuel lead test rods as early as 2018, with lead test assembly insertion planned starting in 2022,”
The EnCore fuel will be delivered in two phases.
The first product has coated cladding containing uranium silicide pellets. The reduced oxidation and hydrogen pickup of this cladding during normal operation (250°-350°C) should prolong cladding life, provide enhanced resistance to wear and increase margins. The cladding also supports extended exposure to high-temperature steam and air (1300°-1400°C) during various accident scenarios.
The second phase of EnCore Fuel features silicon-carbide (SiC) cladding, which is intended to offer “significant safety benefits in beyond-design-basis accident scenarios,” due to its high melting point (over 2800°C) and minimal reaction with water.