US nuclear plant now operating with Framatome’s accident tolerant fuel assemblyS. Himmelstein | January 13, 2022
The first 100% accident tolerant fuel assembly from Framatome is in operation at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland. The fuel, developed through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Accident Tolerant Fuel program, was loaded into one of the plant's two pressurized water reactors during a recent refueling outage at the Exelon Generation facility.
The advanced fuel, containing 176 chromium-coated rods and chromia-enhanced pellets, will operate in the reactor for the next four to six years and will be routinely inspected to monitor its performance. The lead fuel assembly is intended to improve tolerance to changes in the reactor core and is expected to reduce corrosion and hydrogen production under high-temperature conditions. This first complete fuel assembly builds on previous work that included completing an 18-month fuel cycle test on such fuel assemblies in the U.S. and Switzerland.
Framatome is one of three U.S. fuel vendors working with DOE to develop new fuel and cladding mixtures that could help improve the overall economics and performance of today’s reactors. Westinghouse and General Electric are also on track to have their accident tolerant fuels ready for batch loading by the mid-2020s and with commercial widespread adoption by 2030.