Westinghouse Electric Company has announced the formal launch of EnCoreTM Fuel, an accident-tolerant fuel solution, intended to offer design-basis-altering safety, greater uranium efficiency, and significant economic benefits for the company’s nuclear fuel customers.
The initial EnCore Fuel product consists of coated cladding containing uranium silicide pellets, which Westinghouse says distinguishes the fuel from other accident-tolerant fuel solutions thanks to their higher density and higher thermal conductivity. Reduced oxidation and hydrogen pickup of the coated cladding during normal operation (250-350°C) is expected to prolong cladding life, provide enhanced resistance to wear, and increase margins. The coated cladding also supports extended exposure to high temperature steam and air (1300-1400°C) during a loss-of-coolant accident, reactivity-initiated accident, and beyond-design-basis conditions.
A second phase of EnCore Fuel features silicon-carbide cladding to offer significant safety benefits in beyond-design-basis accident scenarios. This is enabled by its extremely high melting point (2800°C or higher) and minimal reaction with water, resulting in minimal generation of heat and hydrogen in beyond-design-basis accident scenarios.
The company plans to manufacture EnCore Fuel lead test rods as early as 2018, with lead test assembly insertion planned starting in 2022.