AREVA Federal Services (AFS), an AREVA subsidiary in the United States, has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue the development of next generation fuel for light water nuclear reactors. This program aims to develop enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF), a fuel that is more resistant under severe accident conditions, particularly those involving a loss of cooling.
The AREVA-led team, comprising the U.S. utilities Tennessee Valley Authority and Duke Energy, the Universities of Wisconsin and Florida as well as the Savannah River National Laboratory, has been working on the first phase of this project since 2012. The team evaluated promising technologies to give nuclear power plant operators more time to manage an accident situation. These technologies included, for instance, coatings on the Zirconium cladding, additives to the uranium pellets as well as modifications to the coolant loop. Pellets with several additives were manufactured at the University of Florida and shipped to Idaho National Laboratory for insertion into the Advanced Test Reactor this summer.
The objective of the new contract is to complete the initial research and development phase, select the most promising solutions and move forward with the EATF design in order to deploy lead test assemblies or rods into a commercial power reactor in 2022. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and U.S. nuclear operator Dominion Generation will join the current AREVA team. Dominion Generation’s role, like those of the other participating electric utility team members, will be as an advisor to the project.
“Thanks to AREVA’s experience regarding commercial fuel as well as our extensive research and development capabilities, we can provide DOE with the support needed to achieve their goal and launch tests in commercial reactors in 2022,” said Tara Neider, president and CEO of AREVA Federal Services. “This project is an excellent example of successful collaboration between public, private and academic sectors to ultimately optimize the safety and reliability of all nuclear reactors in operations.”