Advanced fuel assemblies featuring chromia-doped fuel pellets and chromium-coated fuel cladding are to be Vogtle units 1 and 2. Image credit: Southern Nuclear/NRCVogtle units 1 and 2. Image credit: Southern Nuclear/NRCloaded into the Vogtle 2 nuclear power plant in Georgia. Loading of the fuel, developed by AREVA NP under the U.S. Department of Energy's Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel program, is scheduled for spring 2019.

An AREVA NP team will load four advanced lead test assemblies, and the company will begin manufacturing the chromia-doped fuel pellets at its Richland, WA, nuclear fuel manufacturing facility later this year.

The fuel technology is designed to provide reactor operators more time to respond in emergency situations. Chromia-doped fuel pellets have a higher density and help to reduce fission gas release should a reactor lose cooling. The addition of a chromium coating to the fuel's existing zirconium alloy cladding offers advantages, including improved resistance to oxidation at high temperatures, the reduction of hydrogen generation and enhanced resistance to debris-fretting.

AREVA NP is currently developing an advanced fuel concept that includes silicon carbide.