Irradiation Test Train Design Completed for BWXT’s Novel Fuel Form

May 15, 2023

NRIC is coordinating INL activities necessary for irradiation testing of a new fuel form from BWXT: uranium nitride tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) fuel. This fuel is similar to traditional gas reactor fuel but uses uranium nitride fuel kernels instead of uranium oxycarbide, and uses silicon carbide for the matrix instead of graphite.

The team took just five months to complete the conceptual design for an irradiation test train. When irradiated in Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor, this experiment will provide critical data to ensure the fuel form will be useful in the BWXT Advanced Nuclear Reactor in development. This will be the first irradiation of this fuel form for advanced gas reactors. The program has an initial scope of seven years and beginning budget of $24.3 million.

The primary goal of this program is to conduct a “lead-out” test to gather data on fuel performance. The irradiation test train includes dozens of thermocouples that provide real-time temperature measurements. Real-time measurements of the gas coming out of the train will also be taken to sample the types and amounts of fission products being released. This will be the first step toward qualifying this fuel for use in a reactor.

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