US-based Westinghouse Electric Company said on 20 January that its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology (ADOPT™) doped pellets “are one step closer to US commercialisation” after deliveries to more than 25 regions across Europe.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has informed Westinghouse of their acceptance to review Westinghouse’s report on fuel pellets, which was originally submitted to NRC in May 2020. A draft safety evaluation is now expected in summer 2021.
“This milestone is a major achievement for the advanced fuel portfolio Westinghouse is developing as part of our EnCore® fuel programme,” the company said. ADOPT fuel provides higher density fuel and added energy, in supporting higher fuel burnups through increased enrichments.
Jeff Bradfute, vice president of Americas Fuel Delivery said ADOPT fuel “offers significant enhancements to a plant’s current fuel performance, as well as increased flexibility for long-term operations”. Westinghouse says that, by doping the pellets with small amounts of chromia and alumina, ADOPT fuel achieves greater uranium efficiency and a 50% lower oxidation rate compared with conventional uranium oxide pellets.
The EnCore fuel project had receive support from the US Department of Energy's accident tolerant fuel programme, which aims to develop new cladding and fuel materials that can better tolerate the loss of active cooling in the core, while maintaining or improving fuel performance and economics during normal operations. Lead test rods loaded with ADOPT fuel pellets were loaded into unit 2 of Exelon's Byron nuclear plant in spring 2019.
Photo: ADOPT pellets (Courtesy: Westinghouse)