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Light Water Reactor Fuel Cladding Research


Severe Accident Test Station

ORNL is the focus point for Light Water Reactor (LWR) fuel cladding research and testing. The purpose of this research is to furnish U.S. industry (EPRI, Areva, Westinghouse), and regulators (NRC) with much-needed data supporting safe and economical nuclear power generation and used fuel management. LWR fuel cladding work is tightly integrated with ORNL accident tolerant fuel development and used fuel disposition programs thereby providing a powerful capability that couples basic materials science research with the nuclear applications research and development.

The ORNL LWR fuel cladding program consists of five complementary areas of research:

  1. Accident tolerant fuel and cladding material testing under design basis and extended loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) conditions
  2. Used fuel dry storage and transportation study for DOE and NRC
  3. Cladding material hydriding and radial hydride treatment by high pressure at high temperature
  4. Mechanical property testing to evaluate the ductility of post-test cladding samples
  5. Nondestructive neutron scattering and imaging to study the uptake of hydrogen and distribution of hydride precipitates in commercial LWR fuel cladding in the high flux isotope reactor (HFIR)

A key facility for LWR cladding work is the irradiated fuel examination lab (IFEL), in which PIE on various radioactive materials including high burnup used fueled cladding samples can be performed.

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