Skip to main content

The Mechanical Response of High Burnup 17x17 PWR Fuel Rods Under Bending...

by Paul E Cantonwine, Oscar A Martinez, Rosemary A Montgomery
Publication Type
Conference Paper
Book Title
Proceedings of TopFuel 2022 Light Water Reactor Fuel Performance Conference
Publication Date
Page Numbers
738 to 746
Publisher Location
Illinois, United States of America
Conference Name
Conference Location
Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America
Conference Sponsor
Conference Date

As a part of the US Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy High Burnup Spent Fuel Data Project, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has performed 4pt-bend tests on a series of 17x17 PWR fuel rods that were discharged with rod average burnups between 50 and 60 GWd/MTU. The rods include four different kinds of fuel cladding: standard Zircaloy-4 (Zirc-4), low-tin (LT) Zirc-4, ZIRLO, and M5. Six rods of each type (combining Zirc-4 and LT Zirc-4 as one type) were tested to failure at room temperature and 200 oC. Three of each type experienced a full-length heat treatment cycle from RT to 400 oC to RT with an 8 hr soak at 400 oC to simulate the expected limiting vacuum drying condition, which potentially induces hydride reorientation and causes some annealing of irradiation damage in the cladding. Overall, the fuel rods show significant capacity to deflect in bending and exhibit non-linear deformation before failing. The calculated failure strains range from 1.5% to 3.8%. The simulated vacuum drying heat treatment had the largest effect on fuel rods with ZIRLO and M5 cladding. In both cases the heat treatment caused increases in the plastic strain at failure, suggesting some annealing of irradiation damage is occurring. The finite element modeling of the 4pt bending test assume the pellet is a collection of pellet wedge pieces. The results for the Zircaloy-4 rods suggest that the pellets are bonded to the cladding and friction controls the relative motion of the pellet wedge pieces.