WILMINGTON, North Carolina—December 3, 2020—Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) today announced that lead test assemblies of its Accident Tolerant Fuel (ATF) solutions have been delivered to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for examination after commercial operation. The unfueled IronClad lead test rods and fueled ARMOR lead test rods, the first to be installed in a commercial reactor, successfully completed a 24-month fuel cycle at the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia and are the first commercially operated samples from the ATF program to undergo national laboratory evaluation.
The assemblies were developed as part of DOE’s ATF program and manufactured at GNF’s state-of-the-art facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. ORNL will perform tests and analyses on the post-commercially operated fuel rods to further characterize material properties. Testing will include visual inspections, microscopy and measurements of the thickness, corrosion and other mechanical and material properties of the cladding. This data will be used to determine the performance benefits of the materials and support the licensing of new fuel technologies with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“We are proud to continue our work with customers and partners to develop innovative fuel solutions to lead the industry into the future,” said Jon Ball, Executive Vice President of Nuclear Products for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. “The results of this testing are an important step in the commercialization of advanced fuel technologies.”
“ORNL has had the privilege to be a part of this work since it started, and we are excited to lead this next step,” said Andrew Nelson, head of ORNL’s Fuel Development Section. “We appreciate the support of DOE, particularly our local partners, in helping bring these assemblies to ORNL, and we look forward to leveraging innovative techniques in exploring and better understanding what these materials could mean for nuclear energy.”
Data obtained from this analysis will guide future development of ATF technologies and provide information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing review process. The industry is pursuing the licensing and full commercial deployment of ATF by the mid-2020s.
GNF’s IronClad solution is designed to provide substantial oxidation resistance and superior material behavior over a range of conditions compared to prior solutions. The low oxidation rates of this material at higher temperatures further enhances safety limit margins. GNF’s ARMOR coated zirconium cladding provides enhanced protection of fuel rods against debris fretting. ARMOR also provides oxidation resistance and superior material behavior over a range of conditions making it an attractive technology to enhance safety limit margins and abrasion resistance.
Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) is a world-leading supplier of boiling water reactor fuel and fuel-related engineering services. GNF is a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi, Ltd. and operates primarily through Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas, LLC in Wilmington, N.C., and Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co., Ltd. in Kurihama, Japan.
For media inquiries, please contact:Jon Allen
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy