Metallic nuclear fuels are an active area of research and development for use in advanced reactors. Robust and accurate metallic fuel performance models are necessary for the design, safety analysis, and licensing of such reactors. However, metallic fuel performance models are not as mature as ceramic fuel performance models and require additional development. In order to better gauge the accuracy of existing models, identify high-priority models for development, and quantify the improvements made by future model development, ORNL has developed a benchmark problem based on the IFR-1 experiment.
This work gathers all relevant information on the IFR-1 experiment and uses it to develop the benchmark problem. It simulates the problem using the fuel performance code BISON and compare the results to post-irradiation examination data from the experiment. Then a sensitivity analysis is performed on the BISON model to determine the benchmark problem’s sensitivity to uncertainty in the input parameters.
The results suggest that BISON’s mechanical models require additional development. Plastic deformation is under-predicted in the cladding and axial swelling is over-predicted in the fuel. These problems may be related. Additionally, there is a bias in the temperature which may be a result of uncertainty in the input parameters rather than an issue with the fuel performance models.