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Multiphysics analysis of fuel fragmentation, relocation, and dispersal susceptibility–Part 1: Overview and code coupling strategies

by Ian T Greenquist, Aaron J Wysocki, Jacob A Hirschhorn, Nathan A Capps
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Annals of Nuclear Energy
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The US nuclear energy industry is investigating strategies to increase the reactor operating cycle to 24 months, resulting in peak rod average burnups exceeding the current limit of 62 GWd/tU. This increase will in turn increase the probability of fuel fragmentation, relocation, and dispersal (FFRD) in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA). This effort couples multiple codes to (1) evaluate full-core power histories for high-burnup fuel operated in a Westinghouse 4-loop pressurized water reactor, (2) model a postulated large-break LOCA, and (3) calculate the mass of fuel susceptible to FFRD. This paper, the first of three describing the work, focuses on code coupling strategies and FFRD susceptibility calculations. The other two companion papers focus on code-specific designs and analyses.

Three codes were used in this work. VERA was used to calculate steady-state power histories, TRACE was used to model the transient thermal hydraulics, and BISON was used to model steady-state and transient fuel performance and cladding failure. Several fuel pulverization models were used to calculate FFRD susceptibility in failed rods. Depending on the cladding failure/fuel pulverization model combination, the core-wide FFRD susceptibility during the postulated LOCA range from 0 to over 5,000 kg.