Reactor physics assessment of thick silicon carbide clad PWR fuels
Bloore, David A.
Kazimi, Mujid S.
Pilat, Edward E.
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High temparature tolerance, chemical stability and low neutron affinity make silicon carbide (SiC) a potential fuel cladding material that may improve the economics and safety of light water reactors (LWRs). "Thick" SiC cladding (0.089 cm.) is easier (and thus more economical) to manufacture than SiC of conventional Zircaloy (Zr) classing thickness (0.05 cm.) Five fuels and clad combinations are analyzed: Zr with solid UO2 pellets, reduced fuel fraction "thick" SiC (Thick SiC) with annular UO2 pellets, Thick Sic with solid UO2/BeO pellets, reduced coolant fraction annular fuel with "Thick" SiC (Thick SiC RCF), and Thick Sic with solid PuO2/ThO2 pellets. CASMO-4E and SIMULATE-3 have been utilized to model the above in a 193 assembly, 4-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactor (PWR). A new program, CSpy, has been written to use CASMO/SIMULATE to conduct optimization searches of burnable poison layouts and core reload patterns. All fuel/clad combinations have been modeled using 84 assembly reloads, and Thick SiC clad annular UO2 has been modeled using both 84 and 64 assembly reloads. Dual Binary Swap (DBS) optimization via three Objective Functions (OFs) has been applied to each clad/fuel/reload # case to produce a single reload enrichment equilibrium core reload map. The OFs have the goals of minimal peaking, balancing lower peaking with longer cycle length, or maximal cycle length. Results display the tradeoff betwween minimized peaking and maximized cycle length for each clad/fuel/reload # case. The presented Zr reference cases and Thick SiC RCF cases operate for an 18 month cycle at 3587 MWth using 4/3% and 4/8% enrichment, respectively. A 90% capacity factor was applied to all SiC cladding cases to reflect the challenge to introduction of a new fuel. The Thick SiC clad annular UO2 (84 reload cores) and Think SiC UO2/BeO exhibit similar reactor physics performance but require higher enrichments that 5%. The Thick SiC RCF annular UO2 fuel cases provide the required cycle length with less than 5% enrichment. The Thick SiC clad PuO/2/ThO2 cores can operate with a Pu% of heavy metal of about 12%, however they may have unacceptable shutdown margins without altering the control rod materials.
CIVINS (Civilian Institutions) Thesis document
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