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[10 September 2014 version]


NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE
Notes compiled from literature
by Palanki Balakrishna Ph.D, SO.H (Retired), Nuclear Fuel Complex

















1. Basics of radioactivity, fission and fusion

1.01 Radioactivity
The phenomenon of spontaneous and continuous emission of powerful invisible radiations by the disintegration of an element, which
affect the photographic plate, is called radioactivity. Uranium, radium, thorium etc exhibit natural radioactivity.

1.02 Radioactive decay
Disintegration of a nucleus of an atom spontaneously with the loss of either alpha particle or beta particle or both, results in formation
of new element called, daughter element, e.g.,

238
U
92

234
Th
90
+
4
He
2


4
He
2
is the alpha particle. decay causes decrease of atomic number by 2 units and mass number by 4 units.

decay causes increase in atomic number by one unit and NO change in mass number.

233
Th
90

233
Pa
91
+
0
e
-1


0
e
-1
is the particle.



Emission of rays causes NO change in atomic number or mass number. Only energy is lost.

1.03 Rate of radioactive decay
The rate of radioactive decay (dN/dt) is proportional to the number of atoms present (N).

- (dN/dt) = N

where is the decay constant or the decay probability.

dN/N = - dt
ln N = - t + constant
When t = 0, N = N
0
Hence constant = ln N
0



ln N = - t + ln N
0


ln (N/ N
0
) = - t

= - [ ln (N/ N
0
)] / t
or
N/ N
0
= e
(- t )

CONTENTS

1. Basics of radioactivity, fission and fusion
2. Nuclear Fuel Cycle
3. Nuclear Reactors
4. Fuel Materials
5. Irradiation behaviour of Fuel Materials
6. Cladding Materials
7. Irradiation behaviour of Cladding Materials
8. Mechanisms of Fuel Failure
9. CANDU Reactors FAQ
10. Research Reactors in India and their Utilisation
11. Review Questions

Important: This Notes covers only
part of the syllabus. Also go through
the notes you have made in the class
room when the teacher was
speaking, and from his power-point
presentations. Also answer all the
questions given at the end. Do not
miss related videos on the You Tube
and material on the net.

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The decay constant is given by
= [ ln (N
0
/N)] / t
or

= [ 2.303 log (N
0
/N)] / t

Half life is the time required for the decay of half of the atoms originally present. t
1/2
= 0.693/



















Human life can be measured as full life, since it is quite practical to measure. On the other hand, in an exponential function, it takes
infinite time to reach zero concentration as seen from the above table. Hence a practical measure has been the half life.

1.04 Mass defect
It has been found that the actual mass of an isotope of an element is less than the sum of masses of the protons, neutrons and electrons
present in it. This difference is called the mass defect. The mass defect is the loss of mass during the formation of the nucleus of the
isotope.

1.05 Binding energy
Loss of mass during the formation of the nucleus from nucleons is converted into energy. The release of the energy imparts stability to
the nucleus. The energy released when constituent nucleons combine to form a nucleus is called the binding energy of the nucleus. In
other words, energy equal to the binding energy will be needed to break up the nucleus into its constituent nucleons. The greater the
binding energy, the greater the stability of the nucleus. It is calculated by converting mass defect into energy, using Einsteins
equation E = mc
2


1.06 Mean binding energy per nucleon
The binding energy of a nucleus divided by the number of the nucleons gives the mean binding energy per nucleon. In a graph of
mean binding energy per nucleon versus mass number, the energy first increases steeply, reaches a peak and then decreases. It is
interesting to note that the binding energies of intermediate elements (mass number 50 to 150) are higher than those of the heavier
elements. For example, iron (mass number 56) has higher binding energy than uranium (mass number 235). An appreciable amount of
energy will be released, when heavy nuclei such as uranium 235 (possessing lower binding energy) split up into nuclei of intermediate
elements. This is the reason why heavy elements like U235 exhibit radio activity. Moreover, if such elements are split up by
bombardment with neutrons, a huge amount of energy is released. This is called nuclear fission process. Similarly, when lighter
elements like deuterium are combined or fused to form heavier elements, a huge amount of energy is released. This is called nuclear
fusion process.

Number of
half-lives
elapsed
Fraction
remaining
Percentage
remaining
0
1
/
1
100
1
1
/
2
50
2

25
3
1
/
8
12 .5
4
1
/
16
6 .25
5
1
/
32
3 .125
6
1
/
64
1 .563
7
1
/
128
0 .781
... ... ...
n
1
/
2
n
100/(2
n
)
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1.07 Nuclear Fission versus Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear fission Nuclear fusion
1 Nuclear process where matter is converted to energy. Nuclear process where matter is converted to energy.
2 It is a process of breaking a heavy nucleus with some properties
into two or more light fragments, with liberation of a large
amount of energy.
It is a process of fusing two light nuclei into a single
nucleus, with the liberation of a large amount of energy
3 Fission of U235 gives ~ 200 MeV One Deuterium -Tritium fusion gives ~ 17.6 MeV
4 The process results in the emission of radioactive rays and in
long lived radio active waste.
This process does not emit any kind of radioactive rays. No
radioactive waste. No melt down
5 This process takes place spontaneously at ordinary temperatures This process takes place at very high temperatures ( > 10
6

K)
6 The mass number and the atomic number of the fission products
(new elements) are considerably lower than that of the parent
nucleus.
The mass number and the atomic number of the fusion
products (new elements) are higher than that of the starting
elements
7 It is a chain reaction It is not a chain reaction
8 Fission also releases neutrons Fusion releases positrons
9 The fission process is easy to control The fusion process is very difficult to control
10 Resources limited, concentrated at specific locations Abundant and uniformly distributed
11 Well developed and established technology Under development

1.08 Fissile and Fertile elements
235
U.
239
Pu and
233
U which are capable of undergoing fission upon bombardment by neutrons are called fissileelements.
238
U and
232
Th which are capable of capturing a neutron without undergoing fission, are called fertileelements. The fertile elements
238
U and
232
Th, upon capture of a neutron undergo decay and transform to the fissile elements
239
Pu and
233
U respectively.

1.09 Approximate distribution of the energy released on fission of a heavy atom
Kinetic Energy of fission product atoms ~ 169 MeV
Kinetic Energy of fission neutrons ~ 5 MeV
Instantaneous gamma radiation ~ 5 MeV
Delayed gamma radiation ~ 5 MeV
Fission products decay energy ~ 12 MeV
Beta, gamma radiation after neutron capture ~ 8 MeV

1.10 Minimum Critical Masses of uranium at various U
235
enrichment levels

%U
235
Critical gross mass (U
235
+ U
238
), kg
For solution* For unreflected metal# For reflected metal#
90 0.9 53 24.5
20 5.7 750 375
5 38
3 114
1.8 708

* aqueous solutions, water reflected and optimum light water moderated # spherical shape




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2. Nuclear Fuel Cycle

2.1 What is meant by Nuclear Fuel Cycle?
Uranium as mined can not be fed into a nuclear power station as done for coal or natural gas in a fossil fuelled power station. Uranium
ore contains mineral and chemical impurities including radio active daughter products of U along with the isotopes of U. While
natural U has been used as a fuel, the majority of nuclear power stations use lightly enriched U (up to 5% U235 for power reactors and
20% for research reactors). Therefore a number of chemical and physical separation processes are required to convert uranium ore into
optimized nuclear fuel elements through the stages of mining, milling, conversion and enrichment. These form the Front End of the
nuclear fuel cycle. The nuclear fuel cycle, also called nuclear fuel chain, is the progression of nuclear fuel through a series of
differing stages.

The nuclear fuel cycle is the series of industrial processes which involve the production of electricity from uranium in nuclear
power reactors.
Uranium is a relatively common element that is found throughout the world. It is mined in a number of countries and must be
processed before it can be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor.
Fuel removed from a reactor, after it has reached the end of its useful life, can be reprocessed to produce new fuel.
The various activities associated with the production of electricity from nuclear reactions (including modeling and simulation ) are
referred to collectively as the nuclear fuel cycle. The nuclear fuel cycle starts with the mining of uranium and ends with the disposal of
nuclear waste. With the reprocessing of used fuel as an option for nuclear energy, the stages form a true cycle. It consists of steps in
the front end, which are the preparation of the fuel, steps in the service period in which the fuel is used during reactor operation, and
steps in the back end, which are necessary to safely manage, contain, and either reprocess or dispose of spent nuclear fuel. If spent fuel
is not reprocessed, the fuel cycle is referred to as an open fuel cycle (or a once-through fuel cycle); if the spent fuel is reprocessed, it is
referred to as a closed fuel cycle.
2.2 Once-through nuclear fuel cycle
Not a cycle per se, fuel is used once and then sent to storage without further processing save additional packaging to provide for better
isolation from the biosphere. This method is favored by six countries: the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Spain and South
Africa. Some countries, notably Sweden and Canada, have designed repositories to permit future recovery of the material should the
need arise, while others plan for permanent sequestration in a geological repository like Yucca Mountain in the United States.
Nuclear fuel cycle consists of the steps by which fissionable (
233
U,
235
U,
239
Pu) and fertile (
238
U,
232
Th) materials are prepared for
use in, and recycled or discarded after discharge from, the nuclear reactor. These steps include mining of uranium or thorium bearing
ore and milling of the ore to form concentrates. The uranium concentrate is converted to the volatile uranium hexafluoride that is used
in the separation of isotopes to produce uranium enriched in the fissile
235
U. Another part of the fuel cycle is the fabrication of the
enriched uranium (or natural uranium) into fuel assemblies. After the fuel has liberated the desired amount of heat in the reactor, the
spent assemblies are reprocessed to separate the remaining fissionable and fertile material from the nuclear wastes. Other steps in the
fuel cycle include the various transportation operations that move materials from one step to another, often connecting Plants many
hundreds of miles apart. Finally, waste management includes the treatment, storage and disposal of radioactive wastes from the many
other parts of the fuel cycle. The process begins with mining from the earth and ends with returning to the earth, thereby constituting a
cycle.

2.3 Plutonium cycle
Plutonium cycle is a fuel cycle in which Pu is used for fuel. Several countries are using the reprocessing services offered by BNFL and
COGEMA. Here, the fission products, minor actinides, activation products, and reprocessed uranium are separated from the reactor-
grade plutonium, which can then be fabricated into MOX fuel. Because the proportion of the non-fissile even-mass isotopes of
plutonium rises with each pass through the cycle, there are currently no plans to reuse plutonium from used MOX fuel for a third pass
in a thermal reactor. However, if fast reactors become available, they may be able to burn these, or almost any other actinide isotopes.

2.4 Current industrial activity
Currently the only isotopes used as nuclear fuel are U 235, U 238 and Pu 239 although the proposed thorium fuel cycle has
advantages. Th is three times more abundant in the Earth's crust than U. Heavy water reactors and graphite-moderated reactors can use
natural uranium, but the vast majority of the world's reactors require enriched uranium, in which the ratio of U-235 to U-238 is
increased. In civilian reactors the enrichment is increased to as much as 5% U-235 and 95% U-238, but in naval reactors there is as
much as 93% U-235. The term nuclear fuel is not normally used in respect to fusion power, which fuses isotopes of hydrogen into
helium to release energy


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2.4.1 Exploration
Uranium is a slightly radioactive element that occurs throughout the Earth's crust. It is about 500 times more abundant than gold and
about as common as tin. It is present in most rocks and soils as well as in many rivers and in sea water. It is, for example, found in
concentrations of about four parts per million (ppm) in granite, which makes up 60% of the Earth's crust. In fertilisers, uranium
concentration can be as high as 400 ppm (0.04%), and some coal deposits contain uranium at concentrations greater than 100 ppm
(0.01%). Most of the radioactivity associated with uranium in nature is in fact due to other minerals derived from it by radioactive
decay processes, and which are left behind in mining and milling. There are a number of areas around the world where the
concentration of uranium in the ground is sufficiently high that extraction of it for use as nuclear fuel is economically feasible. Such
concentrations are called ore.

Australia has the largest uranium resources in the world (31%), followed by Khazakstan (12%), Canada (9%), Russia, South Africa,
Brazil, Namibia, USA (4%) and China. Uranium reserves are the amounts of ore that are estimated to be recoverable at stated costs.
The low cost uranium reserves are expected to last over 80 years. The current annual world demand for uranium is 70000 tons.

A deposit of uranium, such as uraninite, discovered by geophysical techniques, is evaluated and sampled to determine the amounts of
uranium materials that are extractable at specified costs from the deposit. Uranium in nature consists primarily of two isotopes, U-238
and U-235. The numbers refer to the atomic mass number for each isotope, or the number of protons and neutrons in the atomic
nucleus. Naturally occurring uranium consists of approximately 99.28% U-238 and 0.71% U-235. The atomic nucleus of U-235 will
nearly always fission when struck by a free neutron, and the isotope is therefore said to be a "fissile" isotope. The nucleus of a U-238
atom on the other hand, rather than undergoing fission when struck by a free neutron, will nearly always absorb the neutron and yield
an atom of the isotope U-239. This isotope then undergoes natural radioactive decay to yield Pu-239, which, like U-235, is a fissile
isotope. The atoms of U-238 are said to be fertile, because, through neutron irradiation in the core, some eventually yield atoms of
fissile Pu-239.

2.4.2 Mining
Both excavation and in situ techniques are used to recover uranium ore. Excavation may be underground and open pit
(surface) mining. In general, open pit mining is used where deposits are close to the surface and underground mining is used for deep
deposits, typically greater than 120 m deep. Open pit mines require large holes on the surface, larger than the size of the ore deposit,
since the walls of the pit must be sloped to prevent collapse. As a result, the quantity of material that must be removed in order to
access the ore may be large. Underground mines have relatively small surface disturbance and the quantity of material that must be
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removed to access the ore is considerably less than in the case of an open pit mine. Special precautions, consisting primarily of
increased ventilation, are required in underground mines to protect against airborne radiation exposure.
An increasing proportion of the world's uranium (36%) now comes from in situ leach (ISL) mining, where oxygenated
groundwater is circulated through a very porous ore body to dissolve the uranium oxide and bring it to the surface. ISL may be with
slightly acid or with alkaline solutions to keep the uranium in solution. The uranium oxide is then recovered from the solution as in a
conventional mill. ISL is of low cost and has minimal environmental impact.



The decision as to which mining method to use for a particular deposit is governed by the nature of the ore body, safety and economic
considerations. An analysis of the depth of the overburden, the depth of the ore body, the grade of the ore, the inclination of the ore
body to the surface, and many other factors is required to decide which method (underground, open cut or in-situ leaching) is the most
economic.
Uranium ore can be extracted through conventional mining in open pit and underground methods similar to those used for
mining other metals. In situ leach mining methods also are used to mine uranium in the United States. In this technology, uranium is
leached from the in-place ore through an array of regularly spaced wells and is then recovered from the leach solution at a surface
plant. Uranium ores in the United States typically range from about 0.05 to 0.3% uranium oxide (U
3
O
8
). Some uranium deposits
developed in other countries are of higher grade and are also larger than deposits mined in the United States. Uranium is also present
in very low-grade amounts (50 to 200 parts per million) in some domestic phosphate-bearing deposits of marine origin. Because very
large quantities of phosphate-bearing rock are mined for the production of wet-process phosphoric acid used in high analysis fertilizers
and other phosphate chemicals, at some phosphate processing plants the uranium, although present in very low concentrations, can be
economically recovered from the process stream.
Uranium is mined from ores whose uranium content is on the order of 0.1 percent (one part per thousand). Most ore deposits
are at or near the surface, and whether they are mined by open-pit or deep-mining techniques depends on the depth of the deposit and
whether it slopes downward. The ore is crushed and the uranium chemically extracted from it at the mouth of the mine.

2.4.3 Milling
Mined uranium ores normally are processed by grinding the ore materials to a uniform particle size and then treating the ore to extract
the uranium by chemical leaching. The milling process commonly yields dry powder-form material consisting of natural uranium,
"yellowcake," which is sold on the uranium market as U
3
O
8
.

2.4.4 Uranium conversion
Milled uranium oxide, U
3
O
8
, must be converted to uranium hexafluoride, UF
6
, which is the form required by most commercial
uranium enrichment facilities currently in use. A solid at room temperature, uranium hexafluoride can be changed to a gaseous form at
moderately higher temperature of 57 C. The uranium hexafluoride conversion product contains only natural, not enriched, uranium.
Triuranium octaoxide (U
3
O
8
) is also converted directly to ceramic grade uranium dioxide (UO
2
) for use in reactors not requiring
enriched fuel, such as CANDU. The volumes of material converted directly to UO
2
are typically quite small compared to the amounts
converted to UF
6
.

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2.4.5 Enrichment
The concentration of the fissionable isotope, U-235 (0.71% in natural uranium) is less than that required to sustain a nuclear chain
reaction in light water reactor cores. Natural UF
6
thus must be enriched in the fissionable isotope for it to be used as nuclear fuel. The
different levels of enrichment required for a particular nuclear fuel application are specified by the customer: light-water reactor fuel
normally is enriched to 3.5% U-235, but uranium enriched to lower concentrations also is required. Enrichment is accomplished using
some one or more methods of isotope separation.

Isotope separation is a difficult and energy intensive activity. Enriching uranium is difficult because the two isotopes have very nearly
identical chemical properties, and are very similar in weight:
235
U is only 1.26% lighter than
238
U. Enrichment methods exploit the
slight differences in atomic weights of the various isotopes. A feature common to all large-scale enrichment schemes is that they
employ a number of identical stages which produce successively higher concentrations of
235
U. Each stage concentrates the product of
the previous step further before being sent to the next stage. Similarly, the tailings from each stage are returned to the previous stage
for further processing. This sequential enriching system is called a cascade.

There are currently two generic commercial methods employed internationally for enrichment: gaseous diffusion (referred to as first
generation) and gas centrifuge (second generation). In gaseous diffusion, natural uranium in the form of uranium hexafluoride gas
(UF
6
), a product of chemical conversion, is forced under pressure to migrate through a porous barrier. The molecules of
235
UF
6

penetrate the barrier slightly faster than those of
238
UF
6.
The process has to be repeated several times.

The old GD plants are being replaced by new GC plants which are more energy efficient and can be built in modules as demand
increases. For example, the energy use for one SWU in a GC plant is only 50 KWh compared with 2500 KWh in an old GD plant.

Laser generation methods will become established because they are more efficient in terms of the energy input for the same degree of
enrichment and the next method of enrichment to be commercialized will be referred to as third generation.

Gaseous diffusion (energy intensive) and gas centrifuge are the commonly used uranium enrichment technologies, but new enrichment
technologies are currently being developed: Laser enrichment(South Africa), chemical exchange (Japanese and French),
aerodynamic (UF
6
+ H
2
carrier gas).

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The bulk (96%) of the byproduct from enrichment is depleted uranium (DU), which can be used for armor, kinetic energy penetrators,
radiation shielding and ballast. Still, there are vast quantities of depleted uranium in storage. The United States Department of Energy
alone has 470,000 tonnes. About 95% of depleted uranium is stored as uranium hexafluoride (UF
6
).

2.4.6 Fabrication
For use as nuclear fuel, enriched uranium hexafluoride is converted into uranium dioxide (UO
2
) powder that is then processed into
pellet form. The pellets are then fired in a high temperature sintering furnace to create hard, ceramic pellets of enriched uranium. The
cylindrical pellets then undergo a grinding process to achieve a uniform pellet size. The pellets are stacked, according to each nuclear
reactor core's design specifications, into tubes of corrosion-resistant metal alloy. The tubes are sealed to contain the fuel pellets: these
tubes are called fuel rods. The finished fuel rods are grouped in special fuel assemblies that are then used to build up the nuclear fuel
core of a power reactor.

The metal used for the tubes depends on the design of the reactor. Stainless steel was used in the past, but most reactors now use
zirconium. For the most common types of reactors, boiling water reactors (BWR) and pressurized water reactors (PWR), the tubes are
assembled into bundles
[9]
with the tubes spaced precise distances apart. These bundles are then given a unique identification number,
which enables them to be tracked from manufacture through use and into disposal.

2.4.7 Transport of radioactive materials
Transport is an integral part of the nuclear fuel cycle. There are nuclear power reactors in operation in several countries but uranium
mining is viable in only a few areas. Also, in the course of over forty years of operation by the nuclear industry, a number of
specialized facilities have been developed in various locations around the world to provide fuel cycle services and there is a need to
transport nuclear materials to and from these facilities. Most transports of nuclear fuel material occur between different stages of the
cycle, but occasionally a material may be transported between similar facilities. With some exceptions, nuclear fuel cycle materials are
transported in solid form, the exception being uranium hexafluoride (UF
6
) which is considered a gas. Most of the material used in
nuclear fuel is transported several times during the cycle. Transports are frequently international, and are often over large distances.
Nuclear materials are generally transported by specialized transport companies.
Since nuclear materials are radioactive, it is important to ensure that radiation exposure of both those involved in the transport of such
materials and the general public along transport routes is limited. Packaging for nuclear materials includes, where appropriate,
shielding to reduce potential radiation exposures. In the case of some materials, such as fresh uranium fuel assemblies, the radiation
levels are negligible and no shielding is required. Other materials, such as spent fuel and high-level waste, are highly radioactive and
require special handling. To limit the risk in transporting highly radioactive materials, containers known as spent nuclear fuel shipping
casks are used which are designed to maintain integrity under normal transportation conditions and during hypothetical accident
conditions.

2.4.8 In-core fuel management
Fuel is loaded into a reactor in a careful pattern so as to obtain the most energy production from it before it becomes no longer usable.
Fresh fuel is more reactive than old fuel, and this reactivity is used to keep the reactor critical. Typically, a reactor is fueled in cycles,
each cycle lasting one to two years, and a fuel batch is kept in the reactor for three or four cycles.

A nuclear reactor core is composed of a few hundred "assemblies", arranged in a regular array of cells, each cell being formed by a
fuel or control rod surrounded, in most designs, by a moderator and coolant, which is water in most reactors.

Because of the fission process that consumes the fuels, the old fuel rods must be changed periodically to fresh ones (this period is
called a cycle). However, only a part of the assemblies (typically one-third) are removed since the fuel depletion is not spatially
uniform. Furthermore, it is not a good policy, for efficiency reasons, to put the new assemblies exactly at the location of the removed
ones. Even bundles of the same age may have different burn-up levels, which depends on their previous positions in the core. Thus the
available bundles must be arranged in such a way that the yield is maximized, while safety limitations and operational constraints are
satisfied. Consequently reactor operators are faced with the so-called optimal fuel reloading problem, which consists in optimizing
the rearrangement of all the assemblies, the old and fresh ones, while still maximizing the reactivity of the reactor core so as to
maximise fuel burn-up and minimise fuel-cycle costs.
This is a discrete optimization problem, and computationally infeasible by current combinatorial methods, due to the huge number of
permutations and the complexity of each computation. Many numerical methods have been proposed for solving it and many
commercial software packages have been written to support fuel management. This is an on-going issue in reactor operations as no
definitive solution to this problem has been found and operators use a combination of computational and empirical techniques to
manage this problem.

2.4.9 Unloading and cooling
Spent reactor fuel is extremely radioactive, and its radioactivity also makes it a source of heat. When the spent fuel is removed from
the reactor, it must continue to be both shielded and cooled. This is accomplished by placing the spent fuel in a water storage pool
located next to the reactor. The water in the pool contains a large amount of dissolved boric acid.
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2.4.10 Reprocessing
Both the converted plutonium and residual uranium-235 in spent fuel can be recycled. Such materials can be recovered by chemically
reprocessing the fuel. Equally as significant, reprocessing can reduce the volume and radioactivity of the waste material, which must
ultimately be eliminated by some method of permanent disposal.

Spent fuel discharged from reactors contains appreciable quantities of fissile (U-235 and Pu-239), fertile (U-238), and other
radioactive materials, including reaction poisons, which is why the fuel had to be removed. These fissile and fertile materials can be
chemically separated and recovered from the spent fuel. The recovered uranium and plutonium can, if economic and institutional
conditions permit, be recycled for use as nuclear fuel. This is currently not done for civilian spent nuclear fuel in the US.
Mixed oxide, or MOX fuel, is a blend of reprocessed uranium and plutonium and depleted uranium which behaves similarly, although
not identically, to the enriched uranium feed for which most nuclear reactors were designed. MOX fuel is an alternative to low-
enriched uranium (LEU) fuel used in the light water reactors which predominate nuclear power generation.
Currently, plants in Europe are reprocessing spent fuel from utilities in Europe and Japan. Reprocessing of spent commercial-reactor
nuclear fuel is currently not permitted in the United States due to the perceived danger of nuclear proliferation. However the recently
announced Global Nuclear Energy Partnership would see the U.S. form an international partnership to see spent nuclear fuel
reprocessed in a way that renders the plutonium in it usable for nuclear fuel but not for nuclear weapons.

2.4.11 Partitioning and transmutation
As an alternative to the disposal of the PUREX raffinate in glass or Synroc, the most radiotoxic elements can be removed through
advanced reprocessing. After separation, the minor actinides and some long lived fission products can be converted to short-lived
isotopes by either neutron or photon irradiation. This is called transmutation.

2.4.12 Waste conditioning and disposal
In the absence of reprocessing, the spent fuel is considered to be waste and must be prepared for disposal. This operation is to be
performed in a separate facility, for which the Department of Energy has responsibility in the United States. As of 1998, the
department is to begin receiving spent fuel from utilities largely on an oldest-fuel-first schedule.

When a holistic view is taken of the nuclear waste disposal process, the risks seem extremely small, yet among the general public
these risks are one of the most feared aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle. A great deal of suspicion about the process arises from the
numerous incidents of mismanagement of other types of waste, and these fears have been encouraged by antinuclear activists.

The waste disposal method currently being planned by all countries with nuclear power plants is called geologic disposal. This means
that all conditioned nuclear wastes are to be deposited in mined cavities deep underground. Shafts are to be sunk into a solid rock
stratum, with tunnel corridors extending horizontally from the central shaft region and tunnel.

A current concern in the nuclear power field is the safe disposal and isolation of either spent fuel from reactors or, if the reprocessing
option is used, wastes from reprocessing plants. These materials must be isolated from the biosphere until the radioactivity contained
in them has diminished to a safe level. In the U.S., under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 as amended, the Department of
Energy has responsibility for the development of the waste disposal system for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
Current plans call for the ultimate disposal of the wastes in solid form in a licensed deep, stable geologic structure called a deep
geological repository. The Department of Energy chose Yucca Mountain as the location for the repository. However, its opening has
been repeatedly delayed.
It is worth noting that some non-PLWR reactor designs, and in particular the ones using liquid thorium fuel in molten salt reactors,
would produce virtually no long-lasting nuclear waste. It is also possible to burn rather than bury nuclear waste for instance in Integral
Fast Reactor or in variation of molten salt reactor.


2.4.13 Uranium from other sources
Sea water contains uranium at 3.5 ppb, which means that 4.5 billion tons of uranium are available in sea water. This is many times
more than all the terrestrial resources of uranium. ORNL claim to have developed high capacity reusable adsorbents and high surface
area polyethylene fibers that have lowered the high cost of uranium extraction from sea water. The adsorbents are made by subjecting
high-surface area polyethylene fibers to ionizing radiation, then reacting these pre-irradiated fibers with chemical compounds that
have a high affinity for selected metals.
Uranium may also be obtained as a byproduct in the extraction of copper and gold and from phosphoric acid.








Page 10 of 52
3 Nuclear Reactors
Encyclopedia Britannica
3.1 Nuclear Reactors
Any of a class of devices that can initiate and control a self-sustaining series of nuclear fissions is a nuclear reactor. Such devices are
used as research tools, as systems for producing radioisotopes, and most prominently as energy sources. The latter are commonly
called power reactors.
3.2 Principles of operation
Nuclear reactors operate on the principle of nuclear fission, the process in which a heavy atomic nucleus splits into two smaller
fragments. The nuclear fragments are in very excited states and emit neutrons, other subatomic particles, and photons. The emitted
neutrons may then cause new fissions, which in turn yield more neutrons, and so forth. Such a continuous self-sustaining series of
fissions constitutes a fission chain reaction. A large amount of energy is released in this process, and this energy is the basis of nuclear
power systems.
In an atomic bomb the chain reaction is designed to increase in intensity until much of the material has fissioned. This increase is very
rapid and produces the extremely prompt, tremendously energetic explosions characteristic of such bombs. In a nuclear reactor the
chain reaction is maintained at a controlled, nearly constant level. Nuclear reactors are so designed that they cannot explode like
atomic bombs.
Most of the energy of fissionapproximately 85 percent of itis released within a very short time after the process has occurred. The
remainder of the energy produced as a result of a fission event comes from the radioactive decay of fission products, which are fission
fragments after they have emitted neutrons. Radioactive decay is the process by which an atom reaches a more stable state; the decay
process continues even after fissioning has ceased, and its energy must be dealt with in any proper reactor design.


3.2.1 Chain reaction and criticality
The course of a chain reaction is determined by the probability that a neutron released in fission will cause a subsequent fission. If the
neutron population in a reactor decreases over a given period of time, the rate of fission will decrease and ultimately drop to zero. In
this case the reactor will be in what is known as a subcritical state. If over the course of time the neutron population is sustained at a
constant rate, the fission rate will remain steady, and the reactor will be in what is called a critical state. Finally, if the neutron
population increases over time, the fission rate and power will increase, and the reactor will be in a supercritical state.
Before a reactor is started up, the neutron population is near zero. During reactor start-up, operators remove control rods from the core
in order to promote fissioning in the reactor core, effectively putting the reactor temporarily into a supercritical state. When the reactor
approaches its nominal power level, the operators partially reinsert the control rods, balancing out the neutron population over time. At
this point the reactor is maintained in a critical state, or what is known as steady-state operation. When a reactor is to be shut down,
operators fully insert the control rods, inhibiting fission from occurring and forcing the reactor to go into a subcritical state.
3.2.2 Reactor control
A commonly used parameter in the nuclear industry is reactivity, which is a measure of the state of a reactor in relation to where it
would be if it were in a critical state. Reactivity is positive when a reactor is supercritical, zero at criticality, and negative when the
reactor is subcritical. Reactivity may be controlled in various ways: by adding or removing fuel, by altering the ratio of neutrons that
leak out of the system to those that are kept in the system, or by changing the amount of absorber that competes with the fuel for
neutrons. In the latter method the neutron population in the reactor is controlled by varying the absorbers, which are commonly in the
form of movable control rods (though in a less commonly used design, operators can change the concentration of absorber in the
reactor coolant). Changes of neutron leakage, on the other hand, are often automatic. For example, an increase of power will cause a
reactors coolant to reduce in density and possibly boil. This decrease in coolant density will increase neutron leakage out of the
system and thus reduce reactivitya process known as negative-reactivity feedback. Neutron leakage and other mechanisms of
negative-reactivity feedback are vital aspects of safe reactor design.
A typical fission interaction takes place on the order of one picosecond (10
12
second). This extremely fast rate does not allow enough
time for a reactor operator to observe the systems state and respond appropriately. Fortunately, reactor control is aided by the
presence of so-called delayed neutrons, which are neutrons emitted by fission products some time after fission has occurred. The
concentration of delayed neutrons at any one time (more commonly referred to as the effective delayed neutron fraction) is less than 1
percent of all neutrons in the reactor. However, even this small percentage is sufficient to facilitate the monitoring and control of
changes in the system and to regulate an operating reactor safely.

3.2.3 Fissile and fertile materials
All heavy nuclides can fission if they are in an excited enough state, but only a few fission readily and consistently when struck by
slow (low-energy) neutrons. Such species of atoms are called fissile. The most important of these are uranium-233 (
233
U), uranium-
235 (
235
U), plutonium-239 (
239
Pu), and plutonium-241 (
241
Pu). The only one that occurs in usable amounts in nature is uranium-235,
which makes up a mere 0.711 percent of natural uranium.

Page 11 of 52
3.2.4 Principles of operation
3.2.4.1 Heat removal
The energy of fission is quickly converted to heat, the bulk of which is deposited in the fuel. A coolant is therefore required to remove
this heat. The most common coolant is water, but any fluid can be used. Heavy water (deuterium oxide), air, carbon dioxide, helium,
liquid sodium, sodium-potassium alloy (called NaK), molten salts, and hydrocarbons have all been used in reactors.

Some research reactors are operated at very low power and have no need for a dedicated cooling system; in such units the small
amount of generated heat is removed by conduction and convection to the environment. Very high power reactors, on the other hand,
must have extremely sophisticated cooling systems to remove heat quickly and reliably; otherwise, the heat will build up in the reactor
fuel and melt it. Indeed, most reactors operate on the principle that their fuel cannot be allowed to melt; therefore, the systems
designed to cool the fuel must operate sufficiently under both normal and abnormal conditions. Systems that enable sufficient cooling
during all credible abnormal conditions in nuclear power plants are referred to as emergency core-cooling systems.

3.2.4.2 Shielding
An operating reactor is a powerful source of radiation, since fission and subsequent radioactive decay produce neutrons and gamma
rays, both of which are highly penetrating radiations. A reactor must have specifically designed shielding around it to absorb and
reflect this radiation in order to protect technicians and other reactor personnel from exposure. In a popular class of research reactors
known as swimming pools, this shielding is provided by placing the reactor in a large, deep pool of water. In other kinds of reactors,
the shield consists of a thick concrete structure around the reactor system referred to as the biological shield. The shield also may
contain heavy metals, such as lead or steel, for more effective absorption of gamma rays, and heavy aggregates may be used in the
concrete itself for the same purpose.


3.2.4.3 Critical concentration and size
Not every arrangement of material containing fissile fuel can be brought to criticality. Even if a reactor was designed such that no
neutrons could leak out, a critical concentration of fissile material would have to be present in order to bring the reactor to a critical
state. Otherwise, absorption of neutrons by other constituents of the reactor might dominate and inhibit a sustained chain fission
reaction. Similarly, even where there is a high-enough concentration for criticality, the reactor must occupy an appropriate volume and
be of a prescribed geometric form, or else more neutrons will leak out than are created through fission. This requirement imposes a
limit on the minimum critical volume and critical mass within a reactor.
Although the only useful fissile material in nature, uranium 235, is found in natural uranium, there are only a few combinations and
arrangements of this and other materials that enable a reactor to maintain a critical state for a period of time. To increase the range of
feasible reactor designs, enriched uranium is often used. Most of todays power reactors employ enriched uranium fuel in which the
percentage of uranium-235 has been increased to between 3 and 5 percent, approximately five and a half times the concentration in
natural uranium.
3.2.5 Thermal, intermediate, and fast reactors
Reactors are conveniently classified according to the typical energies of the neutrons that cause fission. Neutrons emanating in fission
are very energetic; their average energy is around two million electron volts (2 MeV), 80 million times higher than the energy of
atoms in ordinary matter at room temperature. As the neutrons scatter or collide with nuclei in a reactor, they lose energy. This action
is referred to as down-scattering; The choice of reactor materials and of fissile material concentrations determines the rate at which
neutrons are slowed through down-scattering before causing fission.

3.3 Reactor design and components
There are a large number of ways in which a reactor may be designed and constructed, and many types have been experimentally
realized. Over the years, nuclear engineers have developed reactors with solid fuels and liquid fuels, thick reflectors and no reflectors,
forced cooling circuits and natural conduction or convection heat-removal systems, and so on.

3.3.1 Core
All reactors have a core, a central region that contains the fuel, fuel cladding, coolant, and, where separate from the latter, moderator.
It is in the core that fission occurs and the resulting neutrons migrate.
The fuel is usually heterogeneousi.e., it consists of elements containing fissile material along with a diluent. This diluting agent may
be fertile material or simply material that has good mechanical and chemical properties and does not readily absorb neutrons. All
diluents act as a matrix in which the fissile material can stably reside through its operable life. In solid fuels, the diluted fissile material
is enclosed in a claddinga substance that isolates the fuel from the coolant and minimizes the likelihood that radioactive fission
products will be released. Cladding is often referred to as a reactors first fission product barrier, as it is the first barrier that fissile
material contacts after nuclear fission.


Page 12 of 52
3.3.1.1 Fuel types
The light water reactor (LWR), which is the most widely used variety for commercial power generation in the world, employs a fuel
consisting of pellets of sintered uranium dioxide loaded into cladding tubes of zirconium alloy or some other advanced cladding
material. The tubes, called pins or rods, measure approximately 1 cm (less than half an inch) in diameter and roughly 3 to 4 metres (10
to 13 feet) in length. The tubes are bundled together into a fuel assembly, with the pins arranged in a square lattice. The uranium used
in the fuel is 3 to 5 percent enriched. Since light (ordinary) water, used in LWRs as both the coolant and the moderator, tends to
absorb more neutrons than other moderators do, such enrichment is crucial.
The CANDU which is the principal type of heavy water, uses natural uranium compacted into pellets. These pellets are inserted in
long tubes and arranged in a lattice. A CANDU reactor fuel assembly measures approximately 1 metre (almost 40 inches) in length.
Several assemblies are arranged end-to-end within a channel inside the reactor core. The use of heavy water rather than light water as
the moderator enhances the scattering of neutrons rather than their capture, thereby increasing the probability of fission with the fuel
material.
In one version of the high-temperature graphite reactor, the fuel is constructed of small spherical particles, or microspheres, containing
uranium dioxide at the centre with concentric shells of carbon, silicon carbide, and carbon around them. These shells serve as
localized cladding for each fuel sphere. The particles are then mixed with graphite and encased in a macroscopic graphite cladding.
In a sodium cooled fast reactor, commonly called a liquid-metal reactor (LMR), the fuel consists of uranium dioxide or uranium-
plutonium dioxide pellets (French design) or of uranium-plutonium -zirconium metal alloy pins (U.S. design) in steel cladding.
The most common type of fuel used in research reactors consists of plates of a uranium-aluminium alloy with an aluminum cladding.
The uranium is enriched to slightly less than 20 percent, while silicon and aluminum are included in the meat of the plate to serve as
the diluent and fuel matrix. Although aluminum has a lower melting point than other cladding materials, the flat plate design maintains
a low fuel temperature, as the plates are often barely more than 1.25 mm thick. A common variety of research reactors known as
TRIGA (from training, research, and isotope-production reactorsGeneral Atomic) employs a fuel of mixed uranium and zirconium
hydride, often doped with small concentrations of erbium and the whole clad in stainless steel.

3.3.1.2 Coolants and moderators
A variety of substances, including light water, heavy water, air, carbon dioxide, helium, liquid sodium, liquid sodium-potassium alloy,
and hydrocarbons (oils), have been used as coolants. Such substances are good conductors of heat and serve to carry the thermal
energy produced by fission from the core to the steam-generating equipment of the nuclear power plant. In many cases, the same
substance functions as the coolant as well as moderator as in the case of light and heavy water.

3.3.2 Reflector
A reflector is a region of unfueled material surrounding the core. Its function is to scatter neutrons that leak from the core and thereby
return some of them to the core. This reduces core size and smooths out the power density. The reflector is particularly important in
research reactors, since it is the region in which much of the experimental apparatus is located.

In most types of power reactors, a reflector is less important; this is due to the reactors large size, which reduces the proportion of
neutrons that may leak from the core region. The liquid-metal reactor represents a special case. Most sodium-cooled reactors are
deliberately built to allow a large fraction of their neutronsthose not needed to maintain the chain reactionto leak from the core.
These neutrons are valuable because they can produce new fissile material if they are absorbed by fertile material. Thus, fertile
materialgenerally depleted uranium or its dioxideis placed around the core to catch the leaking neutrons. Such an absorbing
reflector is referred to as a blanket or a breeding blanket.

3.3.3 Reactor control elements
All reactors need special elements for control. Although control can be achieved by varying parameters of the coolant circuit or by
varying the amount of absorber dissolved in the coolant or moderator, by far the most common method involves the use of special
absorbing assembliesnamely, control rods or sometimes blades. Typically a reactor is equipped with three types of rods for different
purposes: (1) safety rods for starting up and shutting down the reactor, (2) regulating rods for adjusting the reactors power rate, and
(3) shim rods for compensating for changes in reactivity as fuel is depleted by fission and neutron capture.

3.3.4 Structural components
These are the parts of a reactor system that hold the reactor together and permit it to function as a useful energy source. The most
important structural component is usually the reactor vessel. In both the light-water reactor and the high-temperature gas-controlled
reactor (HTGR), a pressure vessel is used so that the coolant can be contained and operated under conditions appropriate for power
generationnamely, elevated temperature and pressure. Within the reactor vessel are a number of structural elements: grids for
holding the reactor core and solid reflectors, control-rod guide tubes, internal thermal hydraulic components (e.g., pumps or steam
circulators) in some cases, instrument tubes, and components of safety systems.



Page 13 of 52
3.3.5 Coolant system
The function of a power reactor installation is to extract as much heat of nuclear fission as possible and convert it to useful power,
generally electricity. The coolant system plays a pivotal role in performing this function. A coolant fluid enters the core at low
temperature and exits at a higher temperature after collecting the fission energy. This higher-temperature fluid is then directed to
conventional thermodynamic components where the heat is converted into electric power. In most light-water, heavy-water, and gas-
cooled power reactors, the coolant is maintained at high pressure. Sodium and organic coolants operate at atmospheric pressure.

3.3.6 Containment system
Reactors are designed with the expectation that they will operate safely without releasing radioactivity to their surroundings. It is,
however, recognized that accidents can occur. An approach using multiple barriers has been adopted to deal with such accidents.
These barriers are, successively, the fuel cladding, primary vessel, and thick shielding.

3.4 Types of reactors
Most of the world's existing reactors are power reactors. There also are many research reactors, and the navies of many nations include
submarines and surface ships driven by propulsion reactors. There are several types of power reactors, but only one, the light-water
reactor, is widely used. Accordingly, this variety is discussed in considerable detail here.

3.4.1 Power reactors
3.4.1.1 Light-water reactor
LWRs are power reactors that are cooled and moderated with ordinary water. There are two basic types: the pressurized-water reactor
(PWR) and the boiling-water reactor (BWR). In the first type, high-pressure, high-temperature water removes heat from the core and
is then passed to a steam generator. There the heat from the primary loop is transferred to a lower-pressure secondary loop also
containing water. The water in the secondary loop enters the steam generator at a pressure and temperature slightly below that
required to initiate boiling. Upon absorbing heat from the primary loop, however, it becomes saturated and ultimately slightly
superheated. The steam thus generated ultimately serves as the working fluid in a steam-turbine cycle.

A BWR operates on the principle of a direct power cycle. Water passing through the core is allowed to boil at an intermediate pressure
level; the saturated steam that exits the core region is transported through a series of separaters and driers located within the reactor
vessel that promote a superheated state. The superheated water vapour is then used as the working fluid to turn the steam turbine.

Page 14 of 52
Advantages and disadvantages
Each LWR design has its own advantages and disadvantages, and as a result, a competitive economic market has existed between the
BWR and PWR concepts since the 1960s. For instance, although there are fewer mechanical components in the steam cycle of a BWR
design, additional components are required to support the reactors emergency core-cooling system. Furthermore, the BWR vessels
internal system is more complex, since it includes internal recirculation pumps and complex steam separation and drying equipment
that are not found in a PWR design. On the other hand, even though the internals of the PWR are simpler, a BWR power plant is
smaller, because it has no steam generators. In fact, the steam generators of a PWRthere are typically four of them in a big plant
are larger than the reactor vessel itself.
The direct-cycle philosophy of a BWR design reduces heat loss between the core and the steam turbine, but the BWR operates at
lower pressures and temperatures than the PWR, giving it less thermodynamic efficiency. Furthermore, because the BWRs power
density is somewhat lower than that of the PWR, the pressure vessel must be built to a larger diameter for the same reactor power. On
the other hand, because the BWR operates at lower pressure, its pressure vessel is thinner than the pressure vessel of a PWR.


3.4.1.2 High-temperature gas-cooled reactor
The HTGR is fueled with a mixture of graphite and fuel-bearing microspheres. There are two competitive designs of this reactor type:
(1) a German system that uses spherical fuel elements of tennis-ball size loaded into a graphite silo and (2) an American version in
which the fuel is loaded into precisely located graphite hexagonal prisms.

3.4.1.3 Liquid-metal reactors
Sodium-cooled, fast-neutron-spectrum reactors received much attention during the 1960s and '70s when it appeared that their breeding
capabilities would soon be needed to supply fissile material to a rapidly expanding nuclear industry. When it became clear in the
1980s that this was not a realistic expectation, enthusiasm slackened.

3.4.1.4 CANDU reactor
Canada focused its developmental efforts on reactors that would utilize abundant domestic natural uranium as fuel without having to
resort to enrichment services that could be supplied only by other countries. The result of this policy was CANDUthe line of natural
uranium-fueled reactors moderated and cooled by heavy water.



3.4.1.5 Advanced gas-cooled reactor
The advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) was developed in Britain as the successor to reactors of the Calder Hall class, which
combined plutonium production and power generation. Calder Hall was the first nuclear station to feed an appreciable amount of
power into a civilian network. It was fueled with slugs of natural uranium metal canned in aluminum, cooled with carbon dioxide and
employed a moderator consisting of a block of graphite pierced by fuel channels. In the AGR, fuel pins clad in Zircaloy (a trademark
for alloys of zirconium having low percentages of chromium, nickel, iron, and tin) and loaded with approximately 2 percent enriched
uranium dioxide are placed into zirconium-alloy channels that pierce a graphite moderator block. This design utilizes fast neutron
energies and is therefore referred to as a fast reactor. The enriched fuel permits operation to economic levels of fuel burnup. A coolant
Page 15 of 52
of carbon dioxide absorbs and transports heat to a steam generator, where the heat is conducted to the secondary loop and ultimately to
a traditional steam-turbine cycle. Although a number of AGRs have been built in the United Kingdom, maintenance and malfunction
issues have proved to be more costly than expected, and no new AGRs are projected for construction

3.4.2 Research reactors

3.4.2.1 Water-cooled, plate-fuel reactor
This is the most common type of research reactor. It uses enriched uranium fuel in plate assemblies and is cooled with water. Water-
cooled, plate-fuel reactors operate over a wide range of thermal power levels, from a few kilowatts to hundreds of megawatts. The
systems with the lowest power ratings are usually operated at universities and used primarily for teaching, whereas those with the
highest are used by research laboratories chiefly for materials testing and characterization as well as for general research.
A common form of the water-cooled, plate-fuel reactor is the pool reactor, in which the reactor core is positioned near the bottom of a
large, deep pool of water. This has the advantage of simplifying both observation and the placement of channels, commonly referred
to as beam ports, from which beams of neutrons can be directed and transported. At lower thermal power levels, no pumping is
required, as the natural convection of the coolant past the fuel plates provides sufficient heat removal to maintain a safe operating
state. A heat exchanger is usually located at or near the top of the pool, where the hottest water is stratified. At higher operating power
levels, pumping becomes necessary to augment the natural circulation.


3.4.2.2 TRIGA reactors
The training, research, and isotope-production reactorsGeneral Atomic (TRIGA) system is a popular variety of research reactor. It is
another tank-type water-cooled system, but its fuel differs from that employed by the plate-fuel research reactors described above. The
fuel element of the TRIGA reactor consists of stainless steel or aluminium clad rods containing mixed uranium and
zirconium hydrides that are often doped with small concentrations of erbium. In contrast to thin plate-type fuel, TRIGA fuel elements
are nominally 3.8 cm (1.5 inches) in diameter and in general approximately 67 cm (26 inches) in total length. A unique characteristic
of this fuel is that it exhibits an extremely large negative power-reactivity coefficientso large that the TRIGA reactor can be placed
in an extremely supercritical state for an instant, causing its power to rise very rapidly, after which it quickly shuts itself down on the
basis of the fuels inherent material composition and characteristics. The resulting power transient is referred to as a pulse and is
useful for a number of dynamic experiments that require large bursts of neutrons over a short period of time. The total energy released
in a pulse does not draw concern toward the safety of the reactor, since the automatic shutdown occurs very quickly and the energy
release is proportional to both peak power and pulse duration.

3.4.2.3 Other research reactors
As in the case of power reactors, a number of different reactor types have seen service as research reactors, and some are still in
operation. The variety is so great as to defy cataloging. There have been homogeneous (fueled solution cores), fast, graphite-
moderated, heavy-water-moderated, and beryllium-moderated reactors, as well as those adapted to use fuels left over from power
reactor experiments.

3.4.3 Ship propulsion reactors
The original, and still the major, naval application of nuclear energy is the propulsion of submarines. The chief advantage of using
nuclear reactors for submarine propulsion is that they, unlike fossil-fuel combustion systems, require no air for power generation.
Consequently, a nuclear-powered submarine can remain underwater for prolonged periods, whereas a conventional submarine has to
resurface for air needed for combustion.

3.4.4 Production reactors
The very first nuclear reactors were built for the express purpose of manufacturing plutonium for nuclear weapons, and the
euphemism of calling them production reactors has persisted to this day. At present, most of the material produced by such systems is
tritium (
3
H, or T), the fuel for hydrogen bombs.

3.4.5 Specialized reactors
Nuclear reactors have been developed to provide electric power and steam heat in far-removed, isolated areas. Russia, for instance,
operates smaller power reactors specially designed to supply both electricity and steam for heating to accommodate the needs of a
number of remote Arctic communities.

3.5 Reactor safety
Nuclear reactors contain very large amounts of radioactive isotopesmostly fission products but also such heavy elements as
plutonium. If this radioactivity were to escape the reactor, its effects on the people in the vicinity would be severe. The deleterious
effects of exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation would include increased rates of cancer.


Page 16 of 52
3.5.1 Preventive measures
Since no human activity can be shown to be absolutely safe, all these measures cannot reduce the risks to zero, but it is the aim of the
rules and safety systems to minimize the risk to the point where a reasonable individual would conclude they are trivial.

3.5.2 Mitigating measures
Two of the principal safety measures, the safety rods and the containment structure, have already been described. Other major safety
systems are the emergency core cooling system, which makes it possible to cool the reactor if normal cooling is disrupted, and the
emergency power system, which is designed to supply electrical power in case the normal supply is disrupted. (Material from
Encyclopedia ends here)

3.5.3 Some useful parameters of reactor performance

Online hours: The total clock hours in the reporting period, during which the Unit operated with the generator breaker closed to the
station bus.
Offline hours: The difference between the total clock hours in the reporting period and the online hours.
Availability factor: It is the ratio between the number of hours the Unit was online and the total number of hours in the reporting
period.
Capacity factor: ratio of the energy actually produced during the reporting period to the energy that could have been produced at
maximum capacity under continuous operation during the whole of the reporting period.
Number of outages: The number of times the generator breaker opened when the unit was feeding electrical energy to the grid.
Full power days: Fission power of reactor multiplied by time in hours during which reactor was operating at this power divided by
(100% fission power x 24)
p
i
t
i
/ (P
max
t
i
)

3.5.4 Operating Indian Power Reactors

S.No Plant Unit Type MWe Date of commercial operation
1 Tarapore APS 1 BWR 160 28.10.1969
2 Tarapore APS 2 BWR 160 28.10.1969
3 Tarapore APS 3 PHWR 540 18.08.2006
4 Tarapore APS 4 PHWR 540 12.09.2005
5 Rajasthan APS 1 PHWR 100 16.12.1973
6 Rajasthan APS 2 PHWR 200 01.04.1981
7 Rajasthan APS 3 PHWR 220 01.06.2000
8 Rajasthan APS 4 PHWR 220 23.12.2000
9 Rajasthan APS 5 PHWR 220 04.02.2010
10 Rajasthan APS 6 PHWR 220 31.03.2010
11 Madras APS 1 PHWR 220 27.01.1984
12 Madras APS 2 PHWR 220 21.03.1986
13 Kaiga GS 1 PHWR 220 16.11.2000
14 Kaiga GS 2 PHWR 220 16.03.2000
15 Kaiga GS 3 PHWR 220 06.05.2007
16 Kaiga GS 4 PHWR 220 20.01.2011
17 Narora APS 1 PHWR 220 01.01.1991
18 Narora APS 2 PHWR 220 01.07.1992
19 Kakrapar APS 1 PHWR 220 06.05.1993
20 Kakrapar APS 2 PHWR 220 01.09.1995
Total 4780

3.5.5 World Scenario

There are currently 432 operable (that is, connected to electricity grids) nuclear power reactors in the world.

In the year 2010, the contribution of different types of reactors to electricity generated is as below:
PWR 66%, BWR 22%, PHWR 6%, LWGR (RBMK) 3%, GCR 2%, FBR 1%

In 2012, the electricity generated through nuclear reactors as a percent of total electricity generated in different countries is indicated:
France 74.8%, Belgium 51.0%, Ukraine 46.2%, USA 19.0%, Russia 17.8%, Germany 16.1.%, Pakistan 5.3%, India 3.6%,

Page 17 of 52
4 Fuel Materials

4.1 INTRODUCTION
A nuclear reactor is basically a heat source in which energy is released through the fission of an isotope of uranium or plutonium. A
fissionable atom located on a crystal lattice in say, a pellet made of UO
2
crystals undergoes fission when a neutron of suitable energy
is absorbed. This occurs because the resulting nucleus is very unstable and splits into two parts of roughly equal mass. For example,

235
U
92
+
1
n
0

140
Ba
56
+
93
Kr
36
+ 3
1
n
0


235
U
92
+
1
n
0

144
Xe
54
+
90
Sr
38
+ 2
1
n
0


235
U
92
+
1
n
0

144
Cs
55
+
90
Rb
37
+ 2
1
n
0


There is a discrepancy in mass between the two sides of this equation, which corresponds, to an energy release of about 200 MeV.
Most of this energy is imparted to the two fission fragments, which leave the site of fission very rapidly, traveling in straight lines of
length about 10 microns before coming to rest. In doing so they impart their energy to the parent lattice, essentially as thermal
vibrations, and incidentally causing considerable damage to the lattice. It is this energy, plus a smaller amount arising from other
sources, which represents the heat source in the nuclear fuel which must be converted to a more useful form.
The design of the reactor core involves reactor physics, engineering (heat transfer, fluid flow and stress analysis), materials science,
safety and economic inputs. The finished product represents a compromise or optimization between these many different factors. The
core and hence the fuel element are designed, built, operated and refined in an iterative process.
The environment in the reactor core varies from point to point. The fission rate peaks at the core centre and drops off all around
because of neutron leakage. Generally the coolant flows upward through the core so that there is a temperature rise from the bottom to
the top of the core. Since the phenomena in the fuel and cladding materials are sensitive to temperature and to fission rate or neutron
flux, each point in the core will behave differently from others. This makes fuel element design and development particularly difficult.
The fuel element is the fundamental building block of the reactor core. It contains a discrete quantity of nuclear fuel. The most
common geometry for these fuel elements is a long cylindrical rod, although plates are some times used, e.g., in research reactors. The
coolant flows under forced convection over the cladding to remove the heat (cool the fuel element) and transports it to a heat
exchanger. A research reactor has to generate a high flux, but need not generate high coolant temperatures. The high specific power
and surface heat fluxes are best handled by a plate geometry with a high surface are to volume ratio and by an aluminium-based fuel,
which has good neutronic properties.
The reactor core is made up of an assembly of fuel elements. Early designs used individual fuel rods, but is now standard practice to
group many rods together into a bundle or subassembly which is usually enclosed in a metallic box or duct that acts as a flow
separator and as a structural member. A subassembly is a convenient sized unit for moving fuel in and out of the reactor.

4.2 Fuel Assembly Design

The general objectives in the design and engineering of reactor fuel assemblies are to provide:
A geometric arrangement of fissile, fertile and other materials that can sustain a nuclear chain reaction over a period of
several years
Adequate heat transfer and fluid flow characteristics
Failure free fuel pins that will contain radioactive products over the desired burnup life time, through normal and expected
transient operations, and under postulated accident conditions
Economy that will help nuclear power be competitive with other energy sources
Fabrication processes for efficient production of standardized, quality controlled units

Typical (interactive) limitations on fuel assemblies include:
Temperatures prevent melting, excessive component expansion, fission product release, and damaging chemical reactions among
fuel, clad, and / or coolant.
Cladding stress and strain balance coolant pressure, differential pellet clad expansion, pellet swelling, fission gas pressure, and
provision for neutron poisons.

The earliest reactor fuel elements were made of uranium metal. However they tended to suffer from unacceptably large dimensional
changes as a result of thermal cycling radiation damage. Alloying elements capable of limiting the dimensional instability are often
found to cause excessive parasitic neutron capture, especially for thermal neutrons.
The ceramic uranium and plutonium dioxide fuels have emerged as favourites for commercial reactor systems. They have satisfactory
radiation damage and fission product retention properties upto high burn up levels. They are essentially inert to high temperature
reactor coolants and have little poisoning effect in the core. Carbide and nitride fuels have received attention for similar reasons.


Page 18 of 52

4.3 Comparision of properties of different fuel materials

U UC UN U
3
Si UO
2

Th. Density, g/cc 18.95 13.63 14.32 15.58 10.96
U density, g/cc 18.95 12.97 13.52 15.0 9.67
Therm. Cond at 500 C, W.cm/C 0.27 0.23 0.20 0.25 0.04
Melting pt or phase change, C 1130 2330 2800
Decomposition
at 1 atm N
2

930
Peritectoid
reaction
2800

4.4 Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of UO
2
fuel
High melting point
No phase change upto melting point
Good corrosion resistance in hot water
Good chemical stability
Good fission product retention
Excellent irradiation stability
Excellent compatibility with cladding

Disadvantages of UO
2
fuel
Relativley low fissionable atom density.
Low thermal conductivity.
Brittleness.
Low thermal shock resistance.

Advantages of Uranium metal fuel
High uranium atom density results in small core volume.
High thermal conductivity facilitates good heat transfer
Good fabricability and machinability
Higher breeding ratio in the case of fast reactor fuel (U+Pu+Zr)

Disadvantages of Uranium metal fuel
High chemical reactivity with water under operating conditions.
The products of corrosion are more bulky than the metal.
Dimensionally unstable due to anisotropy of alpha uranium.
Inability to restrain the nucleation of gas bubbles which cause swelling.


.5 WATER REACTOR FUEL

The commercial power reactor field is dominated by three main types: PWRs, BWRs and HWRs. All these systems use UO
2
as fuel
and Zr 2 or 4 as cladding.
4.5.1 Pressurized Water Reactor fuel
In all PWRs the fuel rods are assembled into a square array held together by spring clips or spacer grids and by nozzles at the top and
bottom. The assembly includes a number of control rod guide tubes in which approximately 16 control rods slide; these rods are
connected to a common actuator rod at the top of the assembly. This is known as rod cluster control (RCC). The PWR assembly i s
open at the sides, allowing cross-flow of the coolant, independent expansion of the structural components and the fuel rods, and easy
visual inspection before and after discharge.
The individual fuel rods vary in diameter from 9.63 mm to 11.8 mm and are between 3.71 m and 4.09 m in length. The active fuel
length is shorter by about 230 mm, which represents the plenum length. The Zr 4 cladding thickness is about 0.6 mm. The UO
2
pellets
have a density of between 94 and 95%.

4.5.2 Boiling WaterReactor fuel
The BWR fuel assemblies differ from the PWR in a number of respects. Most importantly, the control rods are external to the fuel
assemblies; they are cruciform shaped plates that move in the space between four fuel assemblies. The fuel assemblies therefore
contain only fuel rods, arranged in 8x8 arrays. These rods are spaced by zircaloy grids. There are 8 tie rods, which hold the top and the
Page 19 of 52
bottom of the assembly together. The assembly is contained within a zircaloy box or channel which confines the coolant flow, that is,
there is no cross-flow. BWR fuel rods are clad in Zr 2. The rod diameter and the cladding thickness are somewhat larger than in
PWRs; ~ 12.5 mm OD and 0.864 mm thickness. The fuel column length and the plenum are similar to that in PWRs.

TAPS 1,2 Fuel: 284 fuel assemblies per core
Fuel rod array 6x6 Pellet dia. 12.4 mm
Wt. Of U/assembly 139 kg
Clad material Zircaloy 2, thickness 0.89 mm
Control material Boron Carbide granules in SS tubes
No. of Control blades 69




Improvement in BWR Fuel:
Increasing the helium pressure from 1 atm to 2.5 atm to prevent clad collapse under coolant pressure in the event of abnormal axial
shrinkage of fuel due to in reactor densification. More effective drying of the pellets and loaded element to prevent hydriding. Getters
(for example, reactive alloy of Zr, Ni and Ti) have been used in some countries which get hydrided sacrificially, thereby protecting the
cladding.

4.5.3 Heavy Water Reactor fuel
The fuel is natural enrichment UO
2
. Because the fuel is not enriched, it must be loaded and unloaded on-power. The coolant tubes are
arranged horizontally to make this operation easier and the fuel assemblies are fairly short (50 cm) in order to achieve a hi gher mean
burn-up and because the core length is so great (~6m). The pellets are sealed into 13.1 mm diameter rods with 0.4 mm wall thickness.
Note that the wall thickness is only half that of the smaller diameter LWR rods. Each rod has bearing pads welded to its OD. in a
number of places to separate it from its neighbours. 37 rods are bundled together and welded to two end plates. The fuel residence
time in the core is ~ 470 full power days to reach a design mean maximum burn-up of 7 GWd/t(U)

The CANDU assemblies are slightly less than 0.5 m in length to be consistent with the on line refueling strategy. This short length
does not require that the cladding tubes be free standing like those for the LWR. The clad is thin and is allowed to creep down on to
the pellets. A combination of low burn up for the natural uranium fuel and the short length of the fuel pin limits fission gas production
and hence the need for the plenum space designed into LWR pins. The bundle structure is simple because the pressure tube supports
the fuel bundle and all reactivity control mechanisms are external to the fuel channel.

RAPS Fuel: 12 bundles per channel, 306 channels

RAPP bundle: the six elements of inner ring and the six alternate elements; of the outer ring are wrapped with 0.05 dia zircaloy-2
wire in a helical manner to promote inter-sub-channel mixing of the coolant. The other six elements of the outer ring have spacer
Page 20 of 52
wires welded on to them. In addition, all the twelve outer elements are provided with wrapped bearing pads of 0.065 dia zircaloy-2
wire, which space the bundle from the coolant tube and reduce the wear on the coolant tube during the fuel charging operation.


RAPP 235 MW fuel bundle details:

I) UO
2
:
No. of pellets/tube = 24+2
No. of pellets/bundle = 456
Weight of pellets/tube = 24X33 = 795 = 800 g.
Weight of pellets/bundle = 15.2 Kg.

II) Zircaloy components :

Tubes (19 Nos) 1079.2 g
End plugs (38 Nos) 159.6 g
End plates (2 Nos) 33.2 g
Spacer wire .05 dia 93.0 g
Bearing pad wire 0.065 dia 37.0 g

III) Reactor charge

Weight of finished fuel bundle 16.7 kg.
No. of bundles/channel 12
No. of channels in the reactor 306
No. of bundles in the reactor 3672 (306 X 12)
Wt of UO2 in the reactor 56 tonnes
Total no of bundles required
before start up 4000
Total fuel inventory 60 tons

19 element bundle 37 element bundle
1 UO2 pellet diameter, mm 14.30 12.20
2 Zr-4 clad outer dia, mm 15.25 13.08
3 Length of fuel element, mm 493 493
4 Wt of UO2 per bundle, kg 15.2 22.5
5 Number of spacer pads 72 156 (3types)
6 Number of bearing pads 36 54
7 Number of welds per bundle 328 622
8 Fuel bundles in initial core 306 x 12 = 3672 392 x 13 = 5096
9 Reload fuel bundles per anum 2400 4050
10 Electricity generated per bundle, kwh 640,000 926,000



Page 21 of 52
4.5.4 Typical composition of Jaduguda ore % by weight


U
3
O
8
0.07,
SiO
2
67.2
FeO 6.37
Fe
2
O
3
7.87
Al
2
O
3
5.5
TiO2 0.66
MnO 0.13
CaO 5.40
MgO 2.20
P
2
O
5
1.05
S 0.79

The ore from Jaduguda, Bhatin and Narwapahar Mines are processed in the centralized processing plant (Mill) located close to
Jaduguda Mine. Uranium is extracted from ore in the Jaduguda Mill by hydro-metallurgical process. After three stages of crushing, the
crushed ore undergoes two stages of wet grinding. The slurry thus obtained is pumped to the leaching pachucas for dissolution of
Uranium. The leached slurry is filtered to obtain Uranium liquor.
The Uranium liquor is purified and concentrated by ion exchange method. The Uranium is then precipitated from this concentrated
liquor as magnesium Di-Uranate, generally known as YELLOW CAKE. This is thickened, washed, filtered and dried in the spray
dryer and finally packed in drums and then sent to Nuclear Fuel Complex at Hyderabad for further purification and processing into
UO
2
pellets.

Typical Composition of MDU concentrate received at NFC from Jaduguda, % by weight

U
3
O
8
68-75
Fe 0.4-0.6
Si 3.0-6.5
Ca+Mg 6.0 9.0
PO
4
=
0.1 0.4
SO
4
=
0.5 1.5

4.5.5 Steps in manufacture of metallic fuel for CIRUS

1. Preparation of UF
4
by fluorination of UO
2
.
2. Bomb reduction of UF
4
with Mg at 600 C to get uranium metal ingot (44 kg).
3. Vacuum induction melting (removes N, H, O and F. Graphite crucible coated with alumina is used to prevent carbon pickup.
Dross and oxides float).
4. Bottom pour and cast (75 mm diameter, 900 mm long billet).
5. Hot rolling at 630 C with 5 to 11% reduction per pass
6. Beta heat treatment (heat to 730 C and quench in water)
7. Roller straightening
8. Centreless turning
9. Thread machining of ends
10. Centreless grinding
11. Degreasing, pickling, washing and drying
12. Al inner plugs screwed to ends
13. Al finned tube
14. Draw bench
15. Sheath rolling over end-plugs
16. Al outer plugs screwed to inner plugs
17. End closure TIG welding

4.5.6 Steps in manufacture of ceramic fuel for Power Reactors
Dissolution of magnesium diuranate cake in nitric acid to get slurry.
Solvent extraction of the crude uranyl nitrate to get pure uranyl nitrate, using tributyl phosphate diluted in kerosene.
Controlled precipitation of ammonium diuranate.
Drying, calcination of the cake to get U
3
O
8
.
Reduction of the U
3
O
8
to UO
2
powder. (Frequently, the calcinations and reduction steps may be combined and called Direct
Reduction).
Page 22 of 52
Stabilisation (passivation) of UO
2
powder by controlled exposure to low oxygen.
Compaction of cylindrical pellets, sintering and finish grinding.
Loading of pellets into zirconium alloy tubes and welding. Resistance welding for the thinner (0.38 mm) PHWR cladding, TIG
welding for the thicker (0.83) BWR cladding.
Welded assembly in the case of PHWR and mechanical assembly in the case of BWR.
Inspection at every stage.

4.5.7 Improvements in PHWR Fuel:
Single side dished unchamfered pellets have been replaced by Double dished and chamfered pellets.
Scooped end plug to reduce zirconium content in the fuel assembly and to prevent heat transfer from the pellet at the end of the
element.
Graphite coating on the inside of the fuel tube to minimize friction during pellet clad interaction.


4.5.8 KAMINI Metallic Fuel
Plate type, 20% U233, 80% Al, 8 g of U233 per plate, 8 plates per assembly, 9 assemblies per core

Aluminium was chosen because of its low parasitic thermal neutron absorption cross section, low cost, ready availability, easy
fabricability, adequate mechanical strength, excellent irradiation behaviour, and corrosion resistance in water upto 100 C. Light water
acts as coolant and moderator while BeO acts as reflector. Handling of U 233 is as difficult as that of Pu 239, because of the
accompanying U 232 which has strong gamma emitting daughter products.

Steps in manufacture of KAMINI Fuel
Master alloy, Melt, Cast, Roll, Picture frame, Roll bond

4.5.9 Comparison of fuel elements for thermal and fast reactors


4.5.10 MOX fuel in thermal reactors
MOX fuel is used in thermal reactors as well as fast reactors. About 30 thermal reactors in Europe (Belgium, Switzerland, Germany
and France) are using MOX and a further 20 have been licensed to do so. Most reactors use it as about one third of their core, but
some will accept up to 50% MOX assemblies. In France, EDF aims to have all its 900 MWe series of reactors running with at least
one-third MOX. Japan aims to have one third of its reactors using MOX by 2010, and has approved construction of a new reactor with
a complete fuel loading of MOX.
Page 23 of 52

Licensing and safety issues of using MOX fuel include:
As plutonium isotopes absorb more neutrons than uranium fuels, reactor control systems may need modification.
MOX fuel tends to run hotter because of lower thermal conductivity, which may be an issue in some reactor designs.
Fission gas release in MOX fuel assemblies may limit the maximum burn-up time of MOX fuel.

About 30% of the Plutonium originally loaded into MOX fuel is consumed by use in a thermal reactor. If one third of the core fuel
load is MOX and two-thirds uranium fuel, there is zero net gain of plutonium in the spent fuel.
All plutonium isotopes are either fissile or fertile, although plutonium-242 needs to absorb 3 neutrons before becoming fissile curium-
245; in thermal reactors isotopic degradation limits the plutonium recycle potential. About 1% of spent nuclear fuel from current
LWRs is plutonium, with approximate isotopic composition 52% Pu-239, 24% Pu-240, 15% Pu-241, 6% Pu-242 and 2% Pu-238 when
the fuel is first removed from the reactor.

4.5.11 MOX fuel in fast reactors
Because the fission to capture ratio of neutron cross-section with high energy or fast neutrons changes to favour fission for almost all
of the actinides, including U-238, fast reactors can use all of them for fuel. All actinides, including TRU or transuranium actinides can
undergo neutron induced fission with unmoderated or fast neutrons. A fast reactor is more efficient for using plutonium and higher
actinides as fuel. Depending on how the reactor is fueled it can either be used as a plutonium breeder or burner.
These fast reactors are better suited for the transmutation of other actinides than are thermal reactors. Because thermal reactors use
slow or moderated neutrons, the actinides which are not fissionable with thermal neutrons (fissile) tend to absorb the neutrons instead
of fissioning. This leads to build up of heavier actinides and lowers the number of thermal neutrons available to continue the chain
reaction.

Most liquid metal fast breeder reactors use fuel of 30% PuO2 mixed with natural or depleted UO2. LMFBR fuel design targets are
much more severe than those for an LWR of similar capacity. Higher burnup, specific power, fast flux and fluence, operating
temperatures, and fission gas release all contribute to the design challenge. Small diameter mixed oxide pelletes are loaded into
stainless steel cladding tubes. The pellets are about 90%TD to accommodate large fission gas volumes. Stainless steel has good
strength and compatibility with the coolant. It also has a minimal poisoning effect for fast neutrons in the LMFBR design. Fuel
densification is not a problem as in PWRs as the sodium coolant pressure is maintained at low pressure.

4.5.12 Fast Breeder Test Reactor
The FBTR is similar to the French reactor RHAPSODIE. The French reactor used mixed oxide (U
0.7
Pu
0.3
)O
2
as fuel. The uranium
part was 85% enriched for the small size of the core. FBTR used mixed carbide (U
0.3
Pu
0.7
)C
1.03-1.06
for the first time in the world. The
uranium part in the mixed carbide is natural uranium. Burn up of 1,65,000 MWd/t has been achieved without fuel failure. Burn-up is
the cumulative amount of energy that can be extracted from a unit mass of the fuel. The C/M ratio decreases with burnup. Excess
carbon is provided in the initial fuel to prevent metal formation during irradiation. Mark I has a 70% PuC while Mark II has 55%
PuC. The spent carbide fuel has been successfully reprocessed, to extract the valuable Pu and to separate the fission products. Carbide
fuels are pyrophoric and difficult to make on large scale.

4.5.13 Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor
Even though mixed carbide is the fuel in FBTR, mixed oxide has also been tested in FBTR to understand its irradiation performance.
The experience will be useful for PFBR. The special feature of the mixed oxide is that it used U233 instead of the usual U235, another
first in the world. This is another step forward in thorium utilisation. Another special feature is that annular pellets have been used to
minimise the risks of central melting.

The first five PFBRs will be using mixed oxide fuel. Mark I fuel for the inner core has 21% PuO
2
while Mark II for the outer core
has 28% PuO
2
. Due to the large core size, natural uranium can be used in the mixed oxide. MOX fuels have been time tested and well
proven all over the world.



Page 24 of 52



4.5.14 Metallic fuel in fast reactors
However, future PFBRs will be using Metallic fuel in order to have a higher breeding ratio. Metallic fuels possess high thermal
conductivity and superior compatibility with sodium coolant. It has passive safety characteristics. It is easier to fabricate and also to
reprocess spent fuel. The fuel will be a mixture of U, Pu and Zr.

The breeding ratio is 1.1 in the case oxide fuel while it 1.2-1.3 in the case of carbide and nitride fuels. It is maximum in the case of
metallic fuel (1.4-1.5). Hence the doubling time (surplus plutonium produced to start a new reactor) is short in the case of metallic,
carbide and nitride fuels compared to oxide fuel.

4.5.15 Canflex Bundle
Canflex stands for Canadian Flexible Fuelling. The CANFLEX fuel bundle has 43 fuel pins (1, 7, 14, and 21) instead of 37. It has
lower linear element rating for the same bundle power as a result of the greater element subdivision and the use of two sizes, and is
therefore well suited in advanced fuel cycles, particularly those that can attain high fuel burn-up. The use of two different pin
diameters reduces the power rating of the hottest pins in the bundle for the same total bundle power output. It has also incorporated the
latest critical heat flux (CHF) enhancement technology and therefore can also be used in existing reactors to offset the reduction in dry
out margins when the reactors age.

In current and future reactors, lower heat ratings at current bundle power
In future reactors, power uprating without exceeding current heat ratings
Achievement of extended burn-up facilitated by option of lower heat rating and optimization of internal design
Natural or enriched fuel. Natural uranium is used in the two outer layers of elements
Increased operating margins
Power maneuvering facilitated

Page 25 of 52
CANDU fuel cycles include (i) MOX and Th/U233 cycles (ii) burn spent PWR fuel, since U235 is still slightly enriched over natural
(DUPIC) and (iii) Reprocessed Uranium (RU), Slightly Enriched Uranium (SEU)




4.6 Metallic and Ceramic Dispersion Fuels
One form of dispersion fuels is two-phase metallic fuels in which the fissile effects are localized, reaction between the fuel and the
coolant is essentially eliminated, and the path for heat flow from the fissile particles to the coolant is through a highly conducting
medium. Cermet refers to a combination of a ceramic dispersed in a metal matrix. For example, tungsten carbide dispersed in cobalt is
a tool material. UO
2
or UC dispersed in zirconium or stainless steel is a cermet nuclear fuel.

In dispersion fuels, the fissile phase is surrounded by a high thermal conductivity matrix and is small enough that temperature
differences between the center and surface of the fissile phase are small. Hence such fuels tend to behave as isothermal, heavily
restrained pieces of fuel. In most cases, the temperature is such that all fission products are retained within the fuel particle which is so
restrained within the fuel particle that it can not swell to any extent. In the HTGR coated particle fuel, the temperature is high enough
for volatile fission products to migrate this accounts for the need for the silicon carbide layer in the coating which acts as a diffusion
barrier. These particles are usually designed with a low density buffer layer that helps to accommodate swelling and to absorb the
fission recoil damage. Around any dispersed fissile phase the fission products will penetrate 10-20 microns into the surrounding
matrix and cause severe damage. Obviously the inter-particle spacing must exceed twice the recoil range so that relatively undamaged
matrix remains to give strength and dimensional stability.

Cermets of UO
2
in stainless steel have been irradiated to very high burn-ups of the UO
2
phase without failure. The composition and
structure of the UO
2
phase has not been well examined, but it must differ greatly from the original un-irradiated material. It is fully
dense, probably non-crystalline and contains a lot of fission products, yet it retains its original geometry.

Cermet fuel with UO
2
particles in a tungsten matrix is being developed by NASA for nuclear thermal propulsion of space ships, which
is expected to replace the chemical fuels.

4.7 Burnable poisons
A burnable neutron poison is a material that has a high neutron absorption cross section that is converted into a material of relatively
low absorption cross section as the result of neutron absorption.
A non-burnable neutron poison is a material that has relatively constant neutron absorption characteristics over core life. The
absorption of a neutron by one isotope in the material produces another isotope that also has a high absorption
Cross section.
Chemical shim is a soluble neutron poison that is circulated in the coolant during normal operation.
Burnable neutron poisons are used in reactor cores to compensate for the excess positive reactivity of the fuel when the
reactor is initially started up.
Chemical shim has several advantages over fixed burnable poisons.
- Has a spatially uniform effect.
- Possible to increase or decrease amount of poison in the core during reactor operation.

Fixed burnable poisons have several advantages over chemical shim.
- Can be used to shape flux profiles.
Page 26 of 52
- Do not have an adverse effect on moderator temperature coefficient.

Two reasons for using non-burnable neutron poisons in reactor cores are to shape power and to prevent excessive flux and
power peaking near moderator regions.
An example of a material that is used as a fixed non-burnable neutron poison is hafnium.

Each fuel assembly for TAPS 1 & TAPS 2 BWRs with 36 rods per fuel assembly includes two rods with burnable poison Gadolinium.
There are 3 rods of 1.6% enrichment, 11 of 2.1% and 22 of 2.66% enrichment. Of the 22 rods of 2.66% enrichment, two rods contain
solid solutions UO
2
witth 1.5% Gd
2
O
3


While the above poisons are incorporated by man, there are poisons among fission products. Although several fission products have
significant neutron absorption cross sections, xenon-135 and samarium-149 have the most substantial impact on reactor design
and operation. Because these two fission product poisons remove neutrons from the reactor, they will have an impact on the thermal
utilization factor and thus k
eff
and reactivity.


4.8 Dupic Fuel
In Korea, both PWRs and CANDU reactors are being operated. The fuel discharged from a PWR still contains unused U235 and
newly generated Pu239. The unused fissile element is high enough to be reused in CANDU reactor. DUPIC (Direct Use of PWR fuel
In Candu) has been suggested as one of the solutions for spent fuel management, while improving the utilization of uranium resources
in proliferation resistant way. The PWR spent fuel can be burned again in a CANDU reactor by re-fabrication of CANDU compatible
DUPIC fuel. Only mechanical and thermal processes are used without any separation of sensitive nuclear materials. The advantages
are as follows:
(i) no need for disposal of PWR spent fuel
(ii) saving of natural uranium resource for use in CANDU
(iii) increase of CANDU fuel burn up by utilizing DUPIC
The challenges are the development of palletizing technology, remote fabrication in highly shielded hot cells and handling of
radioactive materials. The spent PWR fuel is cut to size, de-cladded and the UO
2
pellets are oxidized, reduced and re-pelletized,
sintered and loaded into fuel elements.

4.9 Advanced Heavy Water Reactor
AHWR is being developed in India with the specific aim of utilizing thorium for power generation. AHWR is a vertical pressure tube
type reactor cooled by boiling light water and moderated by heavy water. It incorporates several passive safety features, e.g., heat
removal through natural circulation. 750 MWt at a discharge burn-up > 20000 MWd/t; negative void coefficient in spite of using
boiling water coolant. Another design objective is to be self-sustaining in
233
U with most of the power from the conversion of thorium
while using Pu as the external fissile feed.

The number of neutrons liberated for every neutron absorbed in fuel is given the symbol , the values of which are given below:

U233 U235 Pu239 NU
Thermal 2.27 2.06 2.10 1.33
Fast 2.60 2.18 2.74 1.09

for U233 is very nearly constant over a wide neutron energy range, from eV to MeV. Thorium works well in thermal as well as fast
spectrum. for U233 in thermal spectrum is the highest (2.27) for all fissile nuclides and marginally larger than U235 in fast spectrum
(2.18). HWRs are therefore good candidates for thorium utilization. The special features of thorium utilization concept are:
Pu inventory and consumption is small
Energy from in-situ burning of U 233
Based on existing technology

4.10 Inert matrix fuels
Effort is underway internationally to develop a non-UO
2
-based inert-matrix fuel capable of hosting fissile isotopes without generating
new plutonium or high mass carcinogenic actinides. The intention is to be able to dispose off military or reactor-grade plutonium, or
eliminate carcinogenic actinides. AECL has a program that focuses on the development of SiC as the candidate material for this new
form of fuel.
A worldwide effort is underway to find the best ways to dispose off the military plutonium that is being freed by dismantling
of nuclear weapons. Canada is investigating the potential of burning mixed oxide fuel in its CANDU reactors. Inert matrix fuel is a
way of burning the plutonium without generating new plutonium at the same time as MOX or any uranium-based fuel does. CANDU
reactors are particularly suited for all three of these
Page 27 of 52
In conventional PWR, fissile U
235
is present to a level of about 3.2% in a U
238
matrix. Although not directly fissionable, this fertile
U
238
is transmuted to Pu isotopes in the reactor neutron spectrum. During the lifetime of the fuel in the reactor some of this Pu is burnt.
At the end of the fuel lifetime, however, a considerable amount of Pu remains and makes a major contribution to the radioactivity of
the spent fuel. Ideally, one would like to use a non-fertile, inert matrix instead of U
238
and thereby avoid the main source of radio
toxicity. In practice, however, problems arise when one attempts to do this. One such problem is associated with the Doppler Effect in
U
238
. If for some reason the neutron flux increases in the reactor it results in an increase in temperature. This in turn leads to a thermal
broadening of the absorption resonances at 5eV in U
238
, which results in neutrons being lost from the system and thereby acts as a self
regulating mechanism to stabilize the reactor.
Various options are available by which one can reduce the net amount of Pu produced while at the same time having a significant
amount of U
238
present. In one such scheme the spent fuel could be reprocessed to remove the Pu isotopes and then mixed with fresh
UO
2
fuel. This is the basis of Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication.
In an alternative approach, the recycled Pu is used in an inert matrix (Pu/IM). Assemblies of such Pu/IM pins would then be mixed
with standard UO
2
assemblies.
A strategy is described whereby standard UO
2
fuel assemblies are placed together with Pu/IM fuel assemblies in a PWR such that no
net Pu is generated. The amount of Pu generated from the fertile U238 in the standard fuel is equal to the amount burnt in the inert
matrix. Following discharge, spent UO
2
fuel is reprocessed to obtain the Pu which is then used to fabricate fresh inert matrix fuel.
Spent inert matrix fuel is not reprocessed. A zero net production of Pu requires that approximately 18 to 28% of the fuel assemblies to
be inert matrix based.

4.11 SIMFUEL
SIMFUEL is the name given to the simulated spent fuel which is made by mixing finely ground metal oxides, grinding as a slurry,
spray drying it before heating in hydrogen/argon to 1700
o
C. In SIMFUEL, 4.1% of the volume of the solid was in the form of metal
nanoparticles which are made of molybdenum, ruthenium, rhodium and palladium. SIMFUEL is Simulated CANDU high burnup fuel
for specimens with negligible radioactive fields. It replicates the composition and microstructure determined by elements dissolved in
the matrix, metallic precipitates and oxide precipitates. Ion implantation introduces Krypton. Fission gas mobility etc can be studied.

4.12 Accelerator Driven Systems
Design and development of Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) for the generation of fissile U 233 from fertile Th 232 is in progress
at BARC. This technology, once operational, will provide large scale utilization of thorium. This throws open several attractive
possibilities for extending our nuclear power programme. High-energy protons, on colliding with a non-fissile target of high atomic
number element (such as lead, tungsten, uranium etc) cause detachment of a large number of neutrons from these nuclei in a process
known as spallation. A sub-critical blanket of Th 232/ U 233 further amplifies this external source of neutron and produce energy.
These neutrons can provide the required external neutron source which can sustain a significant power level in an otherwise sub-
critical blanket (an arrangement similar to a nuclear reactor with not enough fuel to make it critical). Such ADS can be used to
produce several times more electrical energy than that required to run the accelerator. In addition to converting fertile to fissile
material, ADS is suited for transmuting the highly radioactive waste from conventional nuclear power plants to shorter lived radio
nuclides that do not require very long term storage under surveillance. This novel system of reactor enhances the 233U production
and reduces the technical complexities of geological repositories for storage of long-lived high-level radioactive actinides.


5. Irradiation behaviour of fuels
B T Frost

5.1 It is the odd numbered isotopes of U and Pu that are fissionable. The fission cross sections decrease as the neutron energy
increases. Thus, a thermal (moderated) reactor requires a lower concentration of fissionable isotopes than a fast (unmoderated) reactor.
However, the basic nuclear reaction is similar in the two cases: absorption of a neutron renders the nucleus unstable and it fissions,
producing two fission fragments, neutrons, gamma rays and excess energy. This energy, which is distributed between the two fission
fragments, together with lesser energy in the neutrons and gamma rays, constitutes the nuclear energy which is captured and converted
to electricity. Let us first consider how this energy is transferred to the crystal lattice of the fuel. Fission fragments and neutrons move
rapidly through the lattice, exchanging their energy with the lattice atoms until they come to rest. The energy carried by the fission
fragments predominates and within the fuel we can probably neglect the neutrons, but the damage mechanisms are similar. Each
fragment is highly ionized (about 20+) and has a range of about 7-10 microns in fuel materials. Over this range, it excites atoms up to
100 A radius from the track center, equivalent to raising their temperature to thousands of degrees locally; this is known as a fission
spike. Within each spike, a number of atoms are displaced from their lattice positions to produce vacancies and interstitials. A vacancy
is a vacant lattice site from which an atom is ejected into an interstitial site between the regular lattice sites. If the temperature is high,
these will recombine. If the temperature is low, they remain as single defects and have large effects on transport processes such as
thermal and electrical conductivities. At intermediate temperatures, they may cluster and collapse into loops. Diffusion controlled
processes such as creep and sintering may be enhanced while fission is proceeding.

Once the fission fragments have come to rest, they are more usually described as fission products. Their abundance varies with atomic
weight. Furthermore, they are radio active and undergo decay processes.
Page 28 of 52

The abundant fission products may be grouped according to their physical and chemical characteristics:
Noble metals: Mo, Tc, Rh, Ru, Pd (At high oxygen potentials, Mo may exist as MoO
2
of MoO
3
)
Readily oxidized but insoluble in UO
2
: BaO, SrO
Readily oxidized but soluble in UO
2
: Zr, Ce, Nd
Volatiles: Cs, I, Br, Te (some of these may be present as Cs halides)
Stable gases: Xe, Kr

5.2 Oxides
Complications arise from the low thermal conductivity of UO
2
and (U,Pu) O
2
which give rise to very large radial thermal gradients in
the fuel pellets, often of the order of 2000- 4000 C/cm. This gradient causes the fuel microstructure to change quite rapidly after the
reactor power has been raised to its operating level. That is to say, the original microstructure of a sintered pellet, (consisting of equal
sized grains containing pores) changes fairly rapidly with time. The cross section consists of several zones, which have fairly well-
defined temperatures associated with their boundaries. The fuel restructuring involves two types of grain growth. Above ~ 1500 C,
the grains grow uniformly to produce larger equi-axed grains. Above ~ 1800 C, directional grain growth begins, leading to the
formation of long and narrow columnar grains that are oriented towards the hot center of the fuel. These are believed to form by two
possible mechanisms: either by the migration of pores up the temperature gradient or by a solid state diffusion process. In the former
process, it is envisioned that UO
2
on the hotter side of a large pore evaporates and condenses on the cooled side, creating a transport
process for the pore up the thermal gradient. The movement of the pores to the center of the fuel results in densification of the grains
and the formation of a central hole or void. The grain densification causes the fuel thermal conductivity to rise a little and to cause the
center temperature to drop a little. It can take as little as 24 hours for restructuring to occur. Thereafter, more gradual changes occur,
which are more related to the irradiation processes. However, a purely mechanical effect does occur; when reactor power is changed
rapidly the temperatures in the fuel change rapidly leading to thermal stress changes and to fuel cracking. During prolonged operation
at power, the cracks will heal due to diffusion processes that are enhanced by fission. Hence the fuel microstructure changes
continuously with time and burn-up.
We are interested in fission products for two reasons. First, fission products contribute to fuel swelling. Estimates of the swelling vary
between 0.2% and 0.7% V/V per 1 at% burn-up, the variation being dependent on the oxidation state of the fuel. Clearly, xenon and
krypton contribute as much or more to the swelling, depending on their bubble sizes. A second reason for interest in the solid fission
products is the corrosive effect of the volatile fission products. In LWR fuels the phenomenon of pellet-cladding interaction is the
primary cause of cladding failure. The process is partly mechanical and partly chemical. The mechanical part is attributable to the
differential expansion of the fuel and cladding during reactor start-ups ad shut downs and to fuel swelling late in life. Its effects may
be enhanced locally by pellet-pellet interfaces and by cracks in the fuel. At these locations, volatile fission products have easy access
to the cladding, so that the process is thought to be a form of stress corrosion cracking. Iodine causes local stress-corrosion cracking at
the points of high stress.


Page 29 of 52
5.3 Carbides and Nitrides
Their chemical reactivity with water and oxidizing gases makes them suitable only as LMFBR fuels and in coated particles for
HTGCRs. Their thermal conductivities are much higher than that of oxide. Centre temperatures and thermal gradients are much
lower. This has a marked effect on fuel behaviour and on fission product distribution.

First, carbide and nitride do not restructure the final grain size and shape is similar to the initial grain size and shape. Grain interior
pores do appear to migrate to the grain boundaries, as do the fission gases. The grain boundaries are decorated with fission gas
bubbles which contribute to swelling but which only contribute to gas release, if thermal stress cracking links the bubbles. However,
thermal stresses are much lower than in oxide fuel, so that cracking susceptibility is lower.

The volatile fission products are less mobile than in oxide fuel. Moreover, the carbides and nitrides of the fission products do not
appear to react with the cladding materials in the manner exhibited by the oxides. Thus high gas release and fuel cladding interaction
are absent. On the other hand, the higher densities of carbide and nitride combined with the retention of fission products produce a
higher swelling rate by as much as a factor of two over oxide. Hence, fuel element design & must allow for accommodation of this
swelling. This is usually accomplished through the use of 10 micron wide sodium bond.

5.4 Metallic Fuels
Metallic uranium and uranium alloys have a high thermal conductivity and therefore generate relatively small thermal gradients,
typically ~100
o
C/cm. UO
2
, on the other hand, is a very poor conductor and generates large thermal gradients typically 2000
o
C/cm.
Carbides are an intermediate case, with gradients typically around 500
o
C/cm. These facts have a major effect on bubble migration and
thus on fuel behaviour.

Metal fuels operate at low fractions of their melting points where fission gas diffusion is fairly slow. As thermal gradients are small,
the driving force for directed bubble migration is small. Bubbles generally remain small and gas release is negligible. However,
experiments on pure uranium showed that breakaway swelling could occur. This was due in part to the grain boundary cracking, but
possibly also to bubbles touching and coalescing suddenly.

Addition of a few hundred ppm of iron and aluminium combined with a heat treatment (quenching from the beta phase) removed
breakaway swelling. This material is known as adjusted uranium and is the standard fuel in the UK MAGNOX reactors. The
mechanism of stabilization is believed to be the effect of fine precipitates preventing bubble and grain boundary movements.


6. Cladding Materials

6.1 Introduction
The functions of the cladding material are to maintain a barrier between the fuel and the coolant and to maintain a predetermined
geometry of the fuel element. Initially, Stainless Steel was being used as cladding material with enriched Uranium dioxide as fuel in
PWRS and BWRs. Stress Corrosion Cracking was a problem. Then it was discovered that Zirconium (Zr) had a lesser neutron
absorption cross section than stainless steel and good corrosion resistance in water. When hafnium-free zirconium became available
commercially on large scale, it became a contender as cladding material for water reactors fuels.

Zirconium is a commercially available refractory metal with excellent corrosion resistance, good mechanical properties, very low
thermal neutron cross section, and can be manufactured using standard fabrication techniques. The unique properties of zirconium
made it ideal cladding material for the U.S. Navy nuclear propulsion program in the 1950's. The initial commercial nuclear power
reactors used stainless steel to clad the uranium dioxide fuel due to cost. But by mid-1960 zirconium alloys were the principal
cladding material due to the superior neutron economy and corrosion resistance.

The various zirconium alloy grades used in water-cooled nuclear reactors are also available for nuclear waste disposal components.
Reactor grade designates that the material has low hafnium content suitable for nuclear service. The hafnium is typically 0.010%
maximum. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) offers widely recognized grades of zirconium alloys. Zircaloy-2
(Grade R60802) is composed of Zr-1.5%Sn- 0.15%Fe-0.1%Cr-0.05%Ni and has been predominantly used as fuel cladding in Boiling
Water Reactors (BWR) and as calandria tubing in CANadian Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) reactor types. Zircaloy-4 (Grade
R60804) has removed the nickel and increased the iron content for less hydrogen uptake in certain reactor conditions. The alloy is
typically used as fuel cladding in Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) and CANDU reactors. The nominal Zircaloy-4 composition is
Zr-1.5%Sn-0.2%Fe-0.1%Cr. Non-reactor grade Zirconium 702 (Grade R60702) has 4.5% maximum hafnium.

Zr 2 is good for service under mildly oxidising conditions. The coolant chemistry in a BWR is such that it is oxidising. The coolant
chemistry in a PWR is such that it is reducing, necessitating use of Zr 4.
The fast neutrons and gamma cause radiolytic decomposition of water (or heavy water) into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen so
formed will increase the corrosion rate of the cladding. In the case of PWR, hydrogen is added to the coolant to suppress radiolytic
decomposition. This makes the coolant to be in a reducing state.
Page 30 of 52
In a BWR, hydrogen additions may not be effective due to the boiling nature of the water. Also, the oxygen formed by radiolysis does
not stay in the coolant and boils away. The oxygen contents in a BWR are 0.2 ppm and 20 ppm in water and steam respectively.
Performance of Zr 2 under these conditions in BWR has been satisfactory.

These same zirconium alloys are available to designers of high level nuclear waste disposal containers as internal components or
external cladding. Additional advantages of zirconium alloys for long term nuclear waste disposal include excellent radiation stability
and 100% compatibility with existing Zircaloy fuel cladding to alleviate any concerns of galvanic corrosion.
Zirconium alloys have superior thermal properties compared to other traditional materials in consideration for spent nuclear fuel
containers. Zirconium alloys have a thermal conductivity more than 30% higher than stainless steel alloys. The linear coefficient of
thermal expansion for Zirconium alloys is nearly one-third the value for stainless steel giving zirconium alloys superior dimensional
stability at elevated temperatures. This is an advantage in nuclear waste containers where temperatures could exceed 200C for
hundreds of years.


6.2 History of alloy development: It was found that different batches of pure Zr had different degrees of corrosion resistance. On
analysis, it was found that the corrosion was caused by the presence of nitrogen and that the corrosion rate was proportional to the
nitrogen content. To improve corrosion resistance, one way may be to remove the nitrogen from the zirconium. But then, this is an
expensive proposition, since Zr is highly reactive. Even if you remove the nitrogen now, it will come back again. A cheaper way was
to immobilize the nitrogen, since corrosion is a diffusion-controlled process. It was found that the alloying element tin (Sn) could just
do that. As zircaloy was being made, some one added a piece of SS to the zircaloy by mistake. It was then found that the corrosion
resistance further improved and the strength also improved. The alloying elements had to be in limited quantities for reasons of
fabricability. Thus zircaloy 2 was born. It was found to be suitable as fuel tube material as well as for other structurals such as
pressure tube, also known as Coolant tube. Unlike fuel cladding, the pressure tube remains in the reactor for several years under
coolant pressure and more difficult and expensive to replace than the fuel. Hence better integrity and long life is demanded for
pressure tubes. Initially the pressure tubes were made of zircaloy 2, but later replaced by Zr-2.5Nb alloy with better creep resistance
than zircaloy 2. Zr with lower Nb content are used as fuel tubes in higher burn-up Russian PWRs and not warranted in the low burn up
PHWR fuel.
Stainless Steel however continued to be used in Fast Reactors, where Zr was unsuitable at the higher temperatures in a fast reactor and
where neutron absorption is not as serious.
When Zr reacts with water, initially a protective layer of Zr oxide is formed. Simultaneously, hydrogen is also formed, as a product of
the oxidation reaction. The hydrogen diffuses inwards into the Zr. Corrosion resistance of zircaloy was found to be better on exposure
to hot steam in an autoclave. When more hydrogen is available to the zirconium than that can diffuse inwards, hydride is formed. The
solubility of hydrogen at 300 C is 75 ppm and it decreases with temperature. Hence hydride can form during cooling of the fuel
element or pressure tube. The hydride plates orient according to texture. The hydride has a larger specific volume and lesser strength.
A local stress concentration occurs. Under the corrosive action of cesium and iodine, SCC occurs.


Effect of oxygen on Mechanical properties of Zr
Oxygen, wt% Tensile strength, MPa Elongation, % Hardness, R
C

0.0 200 32 20
0.5 557 16 36
1.0 714 7 46
1.5 842 5 52
2.0 1000 4 57
2.5 1300 3 60

6.3 QUALITY DEMANDS ON ZIRCONIUM ALLOYS
G. Ostberg (Sweden) IAEA-158 (1973)

6.3.1 For use as structural materials in water-cooled reactors, beryllium and magnesium are ruled out because of their limited
corrosion resistance. Aluminium does not have sufficient (creep) strength at temperatures of interest in modern power reactors.
Austenitic stainless steel is superior to zirconium base alloys with respect to general corrosion and strength as far as fuel element
cladding is concerned. (Zr 0.18 barns/atom. SS 18% Cr / 8% Ni 2.9 barns). The propensity of austenitic SS to stress corrosion
cracking excludes its use as cladding in BWR. While this is not necessarily true for PWR, provided that they are operated with proper
water chemistry, the cost penalty of neutron absorption favours Zr.
At present there is only one alternative to the zircaloys as cladding in water-cooled power reactors namely Zr-Nb alloys. The
Canadians use Zr-2.5% Nb in pressure tubes.
Water & steam attack Zr, producing an oxide layer which grows in thickness at a rate which first decelerates parabolically and later
becomes more or less constant. In the early stage, the colour of the oxide is black, but later it turns white. The mere reduction in load-
Page 31 of 52
carrying section of the metal by this oxidation process is usually of little importance. What matters is the simultaneous production of
hydrogen (Zr + H
2
0 ZrO
2
+ H
2
) which dissolves in the metal. If the metal becomes saturated with Hydrogen ZrH
1.5
precipitates in
the form of plates. The amount of hydride that precipitates is determined by the solubility of hydrogen, which decreases with
decreasing temperature to very low values at room temp. The important effect of this is to lower the ductility of the material, in
particular at lower temps.
The composition of zircaloys was selected primarily with regard to corrosion. For most elements purposely added, such as tin, iron,
nickel and chromium / Nb, there is an optimum content with regard to their beneficial effect on corrosion. (The total amount of alloy
additions is restricted by neutron absorption and workability).

Alloying elements Impurities * max, ppm

Sn 1.2-1.7 Cu 50, Al 75
Fe 0.07-0.20 C 270, Ti 50
Ni 0.03-0.08 N 80
Cr 0.05-0.15 Si 200

Impurities with a negative influence on corrosion are restricted.

Absorption of nitrogen has to be carefully avoided during the handling of the primary Zr sponge. To minimise absorption of carbon
and oxygen, the melting and alloying of the metal is done by consumable arc melting in a water-cooled copper crucible under an inert
atmosphere or vacuum. Hydrogen is removed by remelting the metal under vacuum.
A further important aspect of the influence of different foreign elements on corrosion is the effect of surface contamination. This may
occur during heating or heat treatment of the material in the fabrication process, during the surface treatment of the finished product
and during welding. During heating, the element of particular importance is nitrogen, which can in principle be avoided by using an
inert atmosphere or vacuum.
The surface treatment, the purpose of which is to remove the contaminated surface layer or adjust the dimensions of the product can
be done either by chemical treatment or by mechanical grinding. The latter normally presents no serious contamination problems.
Chemical surface treatment involves pickling or etching in a mixture of HF & HNO
3
, followed by rinsing in water. If not properly
rinsed, the zirconium may retain some fluorine containing material on its surfaces. On subsequent exposure to water and steam, such
fluorine concentrations may give rise to accelerated corrosion, visible as white spots. The same is true of excessive fluorine and
chlorine in the UO
2
fuel, which makes the inside surface of cladding tubes sensitive to corrosion attack if the UO
2
contains moisture.
Fingerprints on a zirconium metal surface will leave behind some chloride deposits, which accelerate the corrosion attack, showing up
as white markings. Protection against such contamination may be obtained by applying an oxide layer to the surface by some kind of
oxidizing treatment (autoclaving). Stress corrosion on the inside surface of the clad is induced by iodine. There may be formation of
localized hydride patches on the inside of the cladding (blisters or sunbursts).

6.3.2 Mechanical Properties and Texture
Stresses and strains in cladding arise from the weight of the fuel elements and the hydraulic forces of the coolant, the radial thermal
gradients in the cladding wall, the pressure of the coolant and the fission gases respectively, and the geometrical changes of the UO
2

fuel during its life.
The basic property of zirconium, from the deformation point of view is the arrangement of the atoms in the crystal structure. When a
metal crystal is stressed to the extent that it deforms plastically, it usually deforms by the relative slip of layers of atoms in the lattice.
A metal with hexagonal symmetry (Zr) must differ in deformation behavior from cubic metals (Fe). In the later, the properties of the
crystal are the same in all 3 directions, so called isotropy. In the hexagonal metal crystal, the properties differ in the different
directions (anisotropy).
In a piece of poly crystalline zirconium, made up of a large number of crystals or grains, the orientation of the hexagonal axes of each
grain differ from that of the other grains. The variation of the grain orientations within the piece of zirconium may be statistic or there
may be some coordination to preferred orientations, so called texture. Crystallographic textures occur when a piece of polycrystalline
zirconium is deformed plastically, for instance, during shaping by tube rolling. The reason is that the many differently oriented
crystals or grains in the material respond differently to the stresses and strains imposed, because of the different orientations of their
hexagonal crystal axis. As a result the distribution of orientations in the population of grains changes from statistical into some
regular texture pattern. This in turn makes the further response to stresses and strain during use of the component, dependent on the
direction in which the stresses and strains are applied.

In principle, the requirements of certain properties in different directions of a cladding tube imposed by the mechanical conditions
mentioned in the first para of this section, may be met by the adoption of a suitable route of deformation during fabrication. All the
various demands of mechanical properties can not be met by one texture. Therefore compromises often have to be made. A further
complication to the texture problem is the occurrence of hydride. The hydride plates are usually not statistically oriented but show a
parallel orientation in a direction that is a function of the texture and/or the deformation process.

Page 32 of 52
6.3.3 Requirements of tensile and creep properties
From the designers point of view, the primary strength requirement is a minimum yield strength from room temperature to the
operating temperature, usually 300-320 C for BWR and 340-400 C for PWR. The strength of tubes is measured in the longitudinal
direction by tensile tests and in the circumferential direction by burst tests. To a considerable extent the strength is determined by the
oxygen content of the alloy, while the metallic additions do not play important role. The effect of oxygen decreases with increasing
temperature.
The fabrication parameters determining those strength values in tubes, as well as the ductility are the route of forming or
shaping by extrusion, drawing, rolling or reduction. The required combination of strength & ductility is usually arrived at by adjusting
the annealing of the cold work of the material.
Deformation or cold work during forming makes the material stronger and less ductile, as a consequence of the increase in the number
of dislocations, which interact with each other and restrict their movement. Annealing changes the dislocation pattern and causes the
microstructure to recrystalise into grains with a low dislocation density, and hence a lower strength & higher ductility.
For Zr-2.5% Nb there is an additional means of obtaining different strengths and ductility levels which is not possible with
zircaloy. The niobium in Zr-2.5% Nb can be precipitated as small particles during cooling from the fabrication temperature, giving
rise to relatively high strength by affecting the movement of dislocations.
By changes in the cooling rate, the number and size of the particles and hence the strength can be controlled. A common
procedure is to heat the alloy to 875C for 15-30 min, followed by quenching (80 C/sec) to room temperature and finally tempering at
500C for 24 hours. Although stresses and strains beyond the yield limit are not normally assured in the design of fuel element
cladding, experience from irradiation tests shows that some capacity for plastic straining is highly desirable. In a tensile test on
zirconium, the maximum load is a conservative measure of the ability of the material to elongate without the development of local
thinning (Plastic instability) which is the first stage in the fracture process. To avoid plastic instability after only very small strain
after irradiation, one has to establish a high ductility already in the un-irradiated stage. Creep is of importance in particular for
pressure tubes, which have to carry a substantial load from the internal pressure of the coolant.

6.4 REQUIREMENTS ON CANNING TUBES by B. Larsson, Sweden
6.4.1 The requirements with regard to manufacture of fuel elements are dimensional accuracy (ID X OD), adequate straightness and
proper cleanness. The requirements with regard to application are: Low cross section for thermal neutrons, analysis (low impurity
level), thin wall, adequate strength and ductility determined by oxygen content, tensile strength and ductility, transverse ductility,
hydride orientation, freedom from defects, dimensional accuracy (eccentricity), good corrosion resistance to the coolant, low impurity
levels, favourable microstructure, adequate surface finish, proper cleaners (freedom from fluorides)
alpha/beta transformation temperature

Zirconium 862 C
Zircaloy-2 Heating 825-985 C
Cooling 945-780 C

In Zircaloy, the transformation takes place over a temperature range where the material contains alpha plus beta. Forging of zircaloy is
done in the alpha plus beta or beta region. One must be sure that the heating conditions are such that no harmful diffusion of gases into
the material takes place. The atmosphere should be slightly oxidizing. During cooling of the ingot and also after forging, a secondary
phase rich in the alloying elements, Sn, Cr, Fe, Ni will precipitate. If this precipitation is not uniformly distributed in the material, it
will have a negative influence on the corrosion properties. Therefore a beta quench is performed i.e, heating to the beta region ( 1050
C) and quenching.
The extrusion billets are prepared by drilling and turning. They are clad with Cu to protect against contamination during
heating and to facilitate lubrication during extrusion. The copper is removed by nitric acid after extrusion. Extrusion is done in the
alpha region i.e., at a temp < 825 C.
Cold working of zircaloy tubes is normally performed as pilgering. Cold drawing is not used because of the pronounced tendency of
Zr to gall and seize in the die, which makes it difficult to find suitable lubricants. Besides, drawing is considered to give an
undesirable texture in the tube wall. Pilgering can be performed with area reductions up to 80%.
All annealing operations must be carried out in a vacuum better than 10
3
mm Hg to prevent contamination by gases. The
temperature of the intermediate annealing is around 650-700 C to meet different requirements on mechanical properties, the final
annealing temperature may vary between 475-575 C. In all stages of the production process, the surface quality of the tubes must be
carefully controlled. Surface conditioning of the finished tubes may involve inside vacuum blasting and acid flushing and outside belt
grinding and pickling.
The aim of all surface conditioning of finished tubes is to give them a surface of favourable properties with regard to
corrosion resistance after autoclave treatment. Low surface standard will lead to a gray or white oxide layer instead of the desired
black homogeneous surface.
Vacuum blasting and belt grinding are normally done with SiC since the use of Al
2
O
3
may lead to the undesirable formation of
zirconium oxide (3 Zr + 2 Al
2
O
3
= 3 ZrO
2
+ 4 Al). This is especially important if the mechanical surface treatment is not followed by
any removal of material by pickling.
Page 33 of 52
Pickling is done in a HF-HNO
3
bath (10:1). The HF content is normally 2-3%. The result of the pickling operation is very much
affected by the time between the pickling and rinsing operations and also by the efficiency of rinsing. Insufficient rinsing may lead to
white oxide spots due to fluoride residues on the surface.
6.4.2 Mechanical properties of zircaloy canning tubes
Mechanical properties mainly depend on texture, area reduction in the final rolling and final annealing temperature. Cold working of
tubes by pilgering or drawing gives the material a texture when the c-axes of the crystals, i.e, the basal poles are oriented in a direction
perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the tube. The direction of the basal poles within that plane can be affected by changing the
so-called Q value. This value is defined as the ratio between the reduction in wall thickness and the reduction in diameter.

Q = [(t
0
t
1
)/t
0
] / [(D
0
D
1
)/D
0
]
t
0
= Wall thickness before cold working
t
1
= Wall thickness after cold working
D
0
= average diameter before cold working
D
1
= average diameter after cold working




A high Q value i.e, heavy reduction of the wall and little reduction of the diameter will lead to a texture where the basal poles are
oriented mainly in the radial direction. A low Q-value (which is normal in drawing) will lead to tangentially oriented crystals. In
practice, variations in the Q value are obtained by rolling on mandrels with different conicity. Since the C-direction is the hard
direction in the crystals rolling with a high Q value gives a tube with high hardness in the radial direction. Rolling with a low Q
value gives high hardness in the tangential direction.
When deciding the Q value, one also has to take the hydride orientation into consideration. Hydrogen is absorbed by the tube in
service and precipitated during cooling in plate like hydrides. These hydrides precipitate in the direction perpendicular to the main
working direction on the last cold working operation. Cold working with a very high Q value gives tangential hydrides. A very low Q
value leads to radial hydrides. As the hydrides reduce ductility and may initiate cracks, users normally specify a hydride orientation
that must not differ too much from the tangential.
The other factors influencing the mechanical properties -of the finished tubes are, area reduction and final annealing temp. For high
area reductions, the mechanical properties change very rapidly with annealing temperatures around 500 C. In some cases the
required mechanical properties necessitate annealing in this temperature range, giving a partially recrystallised material.
[Requirements on Canning Tubes by B. Larsson (Sweden) ends here]

6.5 New Developments
The current trend in the nuclear industry to extend fuel burn-up is driven by economic incentives related to fuel-cycle costs, spent fuel
storage requirements, and improved uranium utilization. The trend is often accompanied by new operating regimes, under which the
waterside corrosion of zircaloy could be a performance-limiting factor, especially for high temperature plants. To address this concern
and to limit general in-reactor cladding corrosion, the fuel industry has developed a number of material solutions ranging from the
optimization of chemical composition and microstructure of the cladding to the introduction of new cladding alloys.

Duplex cladding comprises of two layers of distinct compositions. The inner 90% of the cladding wall is Zr 4; but the outer 10% of
thickness consists of a more corrosion resistant alloy than Zr 4.

The corrosion resistance of Zircaloy is further improved by keeping tin on to the lower side and Fe and Cr on the higher side of the
ASTM specification of zircaloy. This action has the advantage that no new approvals are required from customers/suppliers and
regulatory authorities. Zircaloy with the narrow band of alloying elements is called Optimized zircaloy. Optimization of Zr-2 and 4
Page 34 of 52
includes both optimization of microstructure and chemical composition. BWRs and PWRs need differently optimized materials. A
significant improvement of PWR corrosion behaviour can be achieved by keeping Sn in the lower range of ASTM specification range.
Fe and Cr should be somewhat higher and Si should be specified as an alloying element rather than as an impurity.

Refinements in the ingot homogeneity have allowed tighter control of the alloy elements within the ASTM specification. Controlled
Composition Zircaloy offers optimized in-reactor corrosion resistance by adjusting the alloy aim point within the ASTM specification
ranges. Controlled Composition Zircaloy-4 has lower tin (1.3%) and higher iron (0.22%) than the standard grade. Zr-2.5Nb (Grade
R60904) is a binary alloy with niobium to increase the strength. The alloy has been utilized for pressure tubes in CANDU reactors.

6.6 Quality demands on special steels by C.Ostberg, Sweden
6.6.1 Corrosion of stainless steel in fuel element applications is a complex phenomenon, which has to be treated with regard to
differences between different reactor systems rather than in generalised terms. Corrosion in water-cooled reactors (BWR & PWR) is
in many respects different from corrosion in gas-cooled reactors (AGR or HTGR) and sodium cooled reactors (LMFBR). Common to
all types of reactors, however, is the general oxidation process, which produces a surface scale of oxide. Resistance to this kind of
corrosion is promoted by high Ni & Cr contents in a Stainless Steel or alloy. These alloying elements promote the formation of a
protective, slowly growing scale consisting of oxides rich in chromium.
Restrictions on the content of Cr and /or Ni are imposed by the increasing absorption of neutrons - valid, broadly speaking,
only for thermal reactors (BWR, PWR & AGR) and by possible disadvantages with regard to mechanical properties and dimensional
stability. It is usually possible to select a composition of Stainless Steel for use in nuclear reactors with sufficient resistance to
general corrosion to satisfy the requirement with regard to preservation of the section of metal in load carrying components. Apart
from mechanical properties however, problems may arise because of the propensity of stainless steels to corrode locally, leading to
mechanical disintegration or chemical penetration.

Stress corrosion cracking in water or steam is a phenomenon, which usually occurs, only in austenitic Stainless Steel &
Nickel base alloys, but rarely in ferritic, low Ni steel. As the name implies, the material cracks under the combined influence of
mechanical stress & corrosion. A relatively small fraction of the yield stress is necessary if the environment is corrosive. By the latter
is usually meant that the water contains chloride and oxygen. However, in some instances, stress corrosion cracking has occurred in
Ni base alloys and ordinary Stainless Steel also in water with no detectable amounts of chloride or other impurities. With some
simplification, it may be said that the resistance of austenitic Stainless Steel to chloride induced SCC increased with increasing Ni
content.

The microstructure, which is an important factor in this context, is extremely sensitive to variations in compositions, in particular the
content of minor elements such as Carbon, Nitrogen, Sulphur & Phosphorus and also to the heat treatment of the alloy. One effect of
minor elements is the increasing tendency to so called inter crystalline corrosion attack -- even in the absence of stress by increasing
content of carbon, precipitating in the form of particles of chromium carbide in grain boundaries. This precipitation of chromium
carbide can take place during heat treatment of the steel between 400 and 900 C. Therefore, if possible such treatments have to be
avoided as far as possible for material that is to work in a medium known to enhance inter crystalline corrosion. A remedy to this is to
add Ti or Nb, which ties up the carbon in the form of less harmful carbides while not causing depletion of Chromium. Pitting of the
surface of austenitic stainless steel occurs even without any mechanical stress in water containing chloride.

6.6.2 Mechanical Properties
The requirements on mechanical properties of stainless steel and Ni base alloys naturally differ according to the application.
Springs in spacers of fuel elements must have a high yield strength and low rate of stress relaxation or creep, i.e., high resistance to
slow time-dependent deformation. Cladding of fuel elements must have a high creep strength and creep life but also high ductility.

The mechanical properties of stainless steels, of course, vary with composition and heat treatment. Ferritic steels differ from
austenitic steels basically in their different crystallographic structure. The higher ductility of austenitic stainless steels implies that they
are more suitable for production of thin gauges such as fuel element cladding tubes. Carbide particles (Cr, Ti, Nb carbides)
control the elementary process of plastic deformation or movement of dislocations in the metal matrix. At higher Ni contents,
additions of Al can produce fine precipitates of nickel aluminium phases to increase the resistance to high temp creep.

Typical composition of stainless steels and related alloys used in nuclear fuel elements.

Cr Ni Mo Nb Ti C

304 18 8 - - - 0.08

316 17 11 2.4 - - 0.05-0.10

321 18 8 - - 0.4 0.08
Page 35 of 52

347 18 8 - 0.8 - 0.08

20/25 Nb 20 25 - 0.5 - 0.02

12R72 HV 15 15 1.2 - 0.4 0.10 B.006

Incoloy 800 21 32 - - 0.3 0.10 Al 0.3

Nimonic PE-16 16.5 43 3.0 - 1.2 0.02 Al 1.2

Inconel 600 16 75 - - - 0.15 Fe 8.0%

The selection of steel for spacer springs involves a compromise between yield strength, resistance to relaxation, resistance to
stress corrosion and neutron absorption, which sets a restriction on the Ni content. The compromise between all these factors is
usually a 304-type steel with 18% Cr, 8% Ni and low carbon content. Inconel has also been used. If welding is used for joining, care
must be taken to avoid sensitization.
In CO
2
cooled thermal reactors (AGR) the optimization of cladding material with regard to corrosion resistance and
mechanical properties has resulted in the choice of an austenitic Stainless Steel with 20% Cr, 25% Ni and addition of Nb to stabilize
the carbon content.

6.7 PFBR Fuel Cladding Material D 9
(D 9 is a modified stainless steel with controlled additions of Ti and Si. It has reduced Cr and increased Ni. It has better irradiation
creep and swelling resistance)

C = 0.035-0.05, Cr = 13.5-14.5, Ni = 14.5-15.5, Mn = 1.65-2.35, Mo = 2.0-2.5, Si = 0.5 0.75, Ti = 5C-7.5 C, B = 10-20 ppm, S =
0.01 max, P= 0.02 max, N = 50 ppm, Ta = 0.02 max, Co = 0.05 max, Nb = 0.05 max


7. Irradiation Effects on Cladding Materials
B T Frost

7.1 Irradiation effects in cladding materials
In fuel materials, you had fission fragments. You could ignore the effects of neutrons and gamma radiation. In clad materials, you do
not have fission fragments. What do you have? Neutrons and gamma rays. Here you can neglect the effect of gamma rays for their
heating effects. It is the neutrons, which matter. What happens when neutrons pass through clad material at high velocity? First there
is ionization. Then when the energy of the neutron is sufficiently low, it displaces an atom. This primary knock-on atom (PKA) causes
additional displacements. When an atom is displaced, a vacancy and an interstitial are created.
Neutron bombardment also causes transmutations to occur. The simplest form is activation of the host material into a radioactive
state, producing beta or gamma rays. There may also be n-alpha or n-p reactions. n-alpha reaction leads to the formation of helium.
The practical consequences of radiation damage stem from the production of vacancies, interstitials and helium atoms. Certain
properties of materials stem from the concentration and behaviour of lattice defects that are present in un-irradiated materials but in
lower concentrations. Diffusion controlled processes such as Corrosion and creep are accelerated when radiation increases defect
concentrations, dependent on flux.
Other radiation effects are cumulative in nature. They increase as the fluence increases.
The hardness or strength of a metal is determined by the level of difficulty that dislocations experience in moving through the material
in response to an applied load or stress. Grain boundaries, dislocations and precipitates act as obstacles to dislocation motion; they
harden and strengthen the metal.
The interstitial goes to a dislocation and stays there. The energy in the vicinity of the dislocation is lowered by this arrangement. The
vacancies come near each other and cluster together, again lowering their energy. Vacancy clustering is a temperature dependent
process. It happens between 0.2 T
m
and 0.5 T
m
. Below 0.2 T
m
, the vacancies are immobile or are not mobile enough. Above 0.5 T
m
,
the vacancies and interstitials recombine. In the critical temp range, the vacancies cluster.
The cladding of a fuel element must possess high strength to resist the stresses caused by fuel swelling and gas release. It must also
possess god ductility to accommodate the cumulative stresses and strains that arise during the life of the fuel element in the reactor.
Thus, we are very interested in the extent to which irradiation changes strength and ductility. In work hardening, the effects are caused
by the build-up of dislocation networks, which hinder the passage of other dislocations. In precipitation hardening the small
precipitates hinder dislocation motion and irradiation damage defect clusters hinder dislocation motion. In irradiated cladding,
vacancy clusters hinder dislocation motion.


Page 36 of 52
7.2 Mechanical factors limiting performance and life of zircaloy Cladding
The basic cause of stresses and strains in cladding in excess of those imposed by the weight of the fuel element and the forces exerted
by the coolant is the change in dimensions and shape of the fuel as a consequence of burn up and heat flow. This affects the cladding
because it is brought into close contact with the fuel during the rise to power due to the difference in thermal expansion between
cladding and fuel materials ( typically 6X10
-6
C
-1
for zircaloy 2 and 11x 10
-6
UO
2
C
-1
. At high burn up, swelling of UO
2
becomes
more important than thermal expansion). As the cladding is deformed to follow the changes in shape and dimensions of the fuel,
ridges are formed at pellet interfaces. This leads to high multi axial stresses and strains in these regions.

7.3 Irradiation effects on stainless steel cladding
Strength is not the only requirement as regards mechanical properties. A complication in the selection of suitable steel for use in
reactor systems is the complementary requirement of ductility to accommodate unforeseen straining. This is particularly important for
components in the core where neutron irradiation reduces the ductility of metallic materials. The effect of neutrons is to knock out
atoms (iron, nickel or chromium atoms) from their normal places in the crystal lattice, leaving holes or vacancies behind. The
vacancies interact in various ways with the metal during its deformation, usually reducing its ability to relieve stress by slip within the
grains of the metal. The net effect of this irradiation damage is to cause the metal to fracture after a smaller amount of deformation or
at an earlier stage than normally.

In addition to the embrittling effect of vacancy agglomerates neutron irradiation gives rise to transmutations, which affect the
mechanical properties. Neutrons produce helium by reactions with practically all constituents in stainless steel ( n, alpha reaction). In
thermal reactors, one source of helium is the small amount of boron present in most steels and alloys. In fast reactors, the high doses
render important, the helium contributions also from Ni & Cr. The helium thus produced by transmutations embrittles the Stainless
Steel. Fracture along grain boundaries is enhanced. Whether this is generally due to the presence of the helium in the form of bubbles
in the grain boundaries or in the interior of the grains, or in other forms is still an open question. Some evidence indicates that
irradiation-induced precipitates may be responsible under some conditions.

The cladding of fast reactor fuel elements is subject to more demanding conditions than perhaps any other structural material
in a nuclear reactor. From the corrosion point of view, it has to be sufficiently resistant both to grain boundary attack from the
coolant, corrosion on the inside surface and the dissolving action of the sodium coolant. High creep strength and some creep ductility
are necessary. Irradiation lowers the creep ductility of most candidate steels by more than a factor of 10.
Fast neutrons knock out atoms from their normal positions, leaving holes or vacancies behind. Due to the larger dose, the
amount of such vacancies is much greater than that in thermal reactors, leading to super saturation and subsequent precipitation in the
form of voids. Swelling occurs as a result of the formation of the voids. The choice of cladding material for the present prototype
reactors is cold worked 316 SS. Increasing demands on composition stability against sodium may result in a preference for stabilized
varieties such as 321. The English AGR is practically the only type of commercial thermal reactors using Stainless Steel (niobium
stabilized 20 Cr, 25 Ni austenitic stainless steel).



8 Mechanisms of Fuel Failure
B T Frost

8.1 Mechanical factors limiting performance and life of Fuel Element Cladding.
The basic cause of stresses and strains in cladding in excess of those imposed by the weight of the fuel element and the forces exerted
by the coolant is the change in dimensions and shape of the fuel as a consequence of burn up and heat flow. This effects the cladding
because it is brought into close contact with the fuel during the rise to power due to the difference in thermal expansion between
cladding and fuel materials (typically 6X10
-6
C
-1
for zircaloy 2 and 11x 10
-6
UO
2
C
-1
. At high burn up, swelling of UO
2
, becomes
more important than thermal expansion). As the cladding is deformed to follow the changes in shape and dimensions of the fuel,
ridges are formed at pellet interfaces. This leads to high multi axial stresses and strains in these regions.


8.2 FAILURE MECHANISMS

8.2.1 Hydriding of zircaloy
Zircaloy has a high affinity for both oxygen and hydrogen. The water coolant will provide both elements to the fuel cladding. Fuel
cladding experiences two types of corrosion; one from the interactions with the coolant water on the outer surface, the second with the
fuel material and fission products inside the tube. Under most conditions of temperature and environment in a nuclear reactor,
corrosion of Zr alloys by coolant water/steam results in the growth of uniform oxide films, especially in the initial stages. Only in
isolated regimes of temperature and environment, namely, in 300 C boiling (or oxygenated) water and high temperature/high pressure
steam (>450 C, >5 MPa), a local form of oxidation known as nodular corrosion occurs.

Page 37 of 52
Normally zircaloys react slowly with water to give a modest surface oxide film. Some hydrogen enters into solution and diffuses away
from the surface. Local enhancement of the hydrogen pick up, to an extent that exceeds the rate of diffusion into the interior, leads to
the formation of zirconium hydride. This is a lower density phase and it will therefore lead to local volume changes resulting in
blistering or to cracking. If this occurs on the inside of the wall of the cladding, it often has a sunburst appearance. These sunbursts
with their associated cracks can lead to local penetration of the cladding.
The source of water (and hydrogen) on the inside of the cladding can only be from the fuel. If the fuel density is less than ~93% TD,
i.e., it has more than ~7% porosity, the pores may be connected to one another and to the surface with a measured area of a few m
2
/g.
Water vapour upto 50 ppm can be adsorbed on these pores and released when the fuel undergoes fission heating. This water vapour
release led to hydride failures, in LWRs but not in HWRs. This susceptibility in LWRs may be partly due to the presence of fluorine in
enriched uranium (from prior processing), which aided in the breakdown of the surface oxide film to form sunburst. It is also due to
the porosity resulting from lower pellet density. Hydride failures can be largely eliminated by the use of very dry atmospheres during
post sintering operations or by a vacuum degassing process; this brings the residual moisture down to an acceptable level of 1 ppm or
less. One can also incorporate a hydrogen getter in the plenum. Care must also be taken to exclude all other hydrogenous materials
from the fuel rod components during manufacture, since these can also contribute to hydriding. By taking these precautions the failure
incidence due to hydriding has dropped to a low level.

8.2.2 Rod bowing and zircaloy growth
Zirconium or zircaloy, having a hexagonal crystal structure, is subject to anisotropic growth under irradiation. All zircaloy tubing has
a texture, i.e., the grains are not randomly oriented, so that there is a net growth effect in fuel rods or assemblies. Furthermore, the
growth may be different in different fluxes and temperatures in the reactor leading to differential growth effects and to bowing.
Bowing may also be caused by non-uniform stress effects resulting from radiation-induced stress relaxation or from interactions
between the fuel rods and the spacers. These effects have not caused significant incidence of failures in the past, but the push towards
higher burn-up targets, and hence higher neutron fluences on the cladding and ducts, may result in more serious bowing and/or growth
problems.

8.2.3 Fretting and wear
Flow-induced vibrations can cause fretting and wear between the cladding and the grids. The open structure of the PWR assembly
makes this system more susceptible. Some failures have occurred because of the hold-down springs being too weak to stop axial
oscillations. In BWRs vibration has caused fretting of the flow channels. Redesign and greater attention to quality control have
eliminated fretting failures.

8.2.4 Pellet Densification
Pellet densification was a problem identified in the early zircaloy clad PWR fuel. The pellets which had been pressed to about 93%TD
were found to densify as initial irradiation caused their pores to collapse. As the volume of the pellets decreased, gaps formed in the
stack. The clad then crept down into the gaps under the driving force provided by the high pressure (15.5 MPa, 2250 psi, 153 atm)
coolant. Subsequent failure of the clad led to release into the primary coolant of gaseous and other volatile fission products.

Under irradiation the fine pores (< 1 micron in diameter) in UO
2
disappear, leading to densification of the pellets. While the local
effect is small (~ 1% increase in density) the cumulative effect in a 12-ft column is large enough to cause the column to shrink by a
few inches relative to the cladding. This left an empty region, which collapsed under the PWR coolant pressure. Two remedies were
found. First, all PWR rods were prepressurized to ~ 1000 psi (6.9 MPa, 68 atm) of helium to prevent cladding collapse. Second, fuel
manufacturers changed their processes to eliminate most of the small pores from the final microstructure, generally by raising
sintering temperature or by stable density fuel utilizing pore formers.

Pellets are now pressed into higher initial density and with carefully controlled porosity. An inert gas back fill is employed in the clad
tube to resist the external coolant pressure. Because this back fill pressure will later be enhanced as fission gases are released, a careful
balance of design parameters is required to minimize the likelihood of clad failure by over pressurization.


8.2.5 Interaction between fuel & cladding
8.2.5.1 Pellet clad interaction
In the longitudinal direction there is a successive stepwise elongation of the cladding due to the irreversibility of the straining action of
the fuel. When the power is decreased, the fuel contracts in the radial direction. The pellets eventually lose contact with the cladding
and become free to move downwards. At a subsequent power increase, they make new contact with the cladding at a lower position
than before, consequently elongating the cladding a bit further. There is thus a stepwise increase in the length of a cladding tube, so
called ratcheting. This process may become particularly severe if the diameter of the fuel varies from one pellet to another. Problems
due to such ratcheting growth of cladding tubes have been serious in some PWRs. Attempts to overcome or delay these problems
have been made by increasing the gap between fuel and cladding and applying an over pressure of gas on the inside, so-called pre-
pressurization, to increase the time to collapse of the cladding by creep deformation.
Page 38 of 52
Power cycling may correspondingly give rise to mechanical cycling of the ridges, so called low-cycle fatigue, eventually producing
tangential cracks. Environmental factors, such as the presence of corrosive fission products might enhance the failure at such regions
of high local stress and strain.
Cracks in the fuel occur due to the steep radial temperature gradient, causing thermal expansion stresses, which the outer layer of UO
2

can not accommodate without cracking. As the cladding is in contact with the fuel, its deformation at the circumference is governed
by the expansion of the fuel via the friction between the two materials. When the cracks in the fuel open up, the adjacent cladding
becomes subjected to a local strain concentration. This might end up in plastic instability and cracking. The amount of such local
strain to which the clad is subjected by ratcheting during a number of cycles can, in principle, be calculated in terms of the friction and
the strain-hardening coefficient of the cladding material. Increased gap between fuel and clad and prepressurisation may be used to
diminish such effects. Lowering of friction by applying some coating on the inside of the cladding has also been suggested.
Since cladding failure due to fuel interaction is usually related to the ductility of the material, improvements of this property; should
be helpful. However, in non-prepressurized rods, increased (creep) strength is also of value as it increases the time until the critical
contact between fuel & cladding is established.

In the complex PCI process, mechanical stress overload or stress corrosion cracking (SCC) from chemically aggressive fission
products (e.g., iodine, bromine, cesium) cause failure of the zircaloy cladding. Possible PCI initiators include power ramping (i.e.,
escalation at a rapid, reltively uniform rate), rapid return to full power after a refueling shut down, or operation of reloaded assemblies
at a substantially higher power level than in the previous cycle.

The most persistent and troublesome cause of cladding failure is labeled PCI. The cladding is subject to a high external pressure from
the coolant, which forces it down on to the pellet at all times. Thus, high local stresses are induced in the cladding at pellet-pellet
interfaces and where thermal shock cracks reach pellet surface. During a power ramp, the fuel expands faster than the cladding,
increasing the local stresses. At the post transient power level, volatile fission products, including iodine and cesium, are released into
the fuel-clad gap and cause stress corrosion cracking of the zircaloy in the regions of high local stresses.

The problem has been tackled on several levels. First, fuel manufacturers have had to specify to the reactor operators certain rules or
conditions for reactor operations to minimize or avoid PCI failures. This primarily limits the rate of power increases, but also
influences local power shaping. This results in a significant net loss in power output. Lost capacity has been reduced in several ways.
First the change to smaller rod diameters has led to reduced fuel temperatures and a lower tendency to release fission products. Pre-
pressurization has helped to reduce cladding stresses. The stress concentration was avoided by the use of chamfered pellets. In the case
of PHWR fuel, the problem was eliminated with the introduction of graphite coating [CANLUB] and chamfered pellets.

A remedy to PCI in LWRs is use of barrier fuel zircaloy cladding lined with pure zirconium or copper to serve as barrier to fission
products that contribute to SCC and as a ductile interface between the fuel pellet and the cladding to prevent or mitigate crack
propagation. Improved plant operating strategies specify critical values for power range, power step increase, speed of power increase,
and time at transient overpower.

8.2.5.2 Pellet-Cladding Mechanical Interaction
Pellet cladding mechanical interaction refers to the stress on the cladding from an expanding pellet, especially during a transient.
Pellet expansion results mainly from thermal expansion and if the stress is large enough, it can result in cladding failure. PCMI differs
from the related PCI phenomenon, as the latter refers to power ramps where the stress is held for a long period of time and corrosion is
necessary for cracking to take place. The avoidance of mechanical fracture of the clad during transients due to PCMI is covered by the
limit on uniform cladding (plastic and elastic) strain of 1%.


8.2.6 Delayed hydrogen cracking in Pressure (Coolant) Tubes
The precipitation response of zirconium hydride platelets is a stochastic functional of hydrogen concentration, temperature, stress,
fabrication defect/texture structures, and flaw sizes of the cladding.
Cold worked and stress-relieved tubes made up of Zr-2.5%Nb alloy serve as the pressure boundary for the hot coolant in PHWRs.
Pressure tubes get longer and become brittle while in service. Hydrogen in a tube migrates to areas of high stress, stays in solution at
high temperatures and forms brittle zirconium hydride when cooled. Stress occurs at rolled joints. Though the initial hydrogen content
of these tubes is kept as low as possible by controlling the manufacturing process parameters, it can pick up hydrogen/deuterium
during service. Hydrogen is reported to have deleterious influence on the integrity of the dilute zirconium alloy pressure tubes. This is
manifested as gross and localized embrittlement. DHC is a form of localized hydride-embrittlement phenomenon, which in the
presence of a tensile stress field manifests itself as sub-critical crack growth process. It is caused by hydrogen migration up the tensile
stress gradient to the region of stress concentration. Once the local solid solubility is exceeded, brittle hydride platelets precipitate
normal to the tensile stress. Growth of hydride precipitates continues till a hydride platelet of a critical size is formed. A hydride
platelet of the critical size cracks under stress leading to the growth of the crack. The crack growth is delayed by the time required for
hydrogen to reach the crack tip and form hydride platelets of the critical size. Hence this phenomenon is called DHC. It is a
discontinuous crack growth process.

Page 39 of 52





Delayed hydride cracking [DHC] of Zr alloys has long been recognized as a potentially important failure mechanism of high strength
pressure tubes. Recent observations in connection with long axial cracks on failed zircaloy fuel cladding have suggested that DHC
might have been the mechanism behind the growth of the long cracks. The PIE revealed that the long cracks were secondary defects
formed as a result of a small debris-induced primary defect that had leaked water into the fuel rod. The crack tip region of the long
cracks was heavily hydrided in a way that suggested that hydrogen had diffused to the crack tip area and precipitated as hydrides
oriented perpendicular to the tensile stress. The cracks had propagated in both directions from the crack initiation point.

DHC is caused by nucleation and growth of hydrides at a crack tip in a stressed component. When the hydride reaches a certain size, it
cracks and the macroscopic flaw gets an increment of growth and becomes sharp. The process repeats itself at the new crack tip. This
stepwise crack growth is frequently revealed by striations at the fracture surface. The stress-driven diffusion of hydrogen in the matrix
will lead to a super saturation at locations of high-tensile stresses and subsequent precipitation of hydrides.

What is done: Sampling is done to keep track of hydrogen in tubes. Warm up and pressurizing procedure is adopted. (Do not apply
full pressure on a cold tube. Warm up quickly to dissolve hydrogen.)

DHC can also be a problem during the interim storage of spent fuel rods, when the temperature decreases with time leading to platelet
precipitation.
Page 40 of 52






Grid fretting 55%, Unknown / Other 20%, Crud/ corrosion 13%, Debris 8%,
PCI-SCC 4%










Page 41 of 52
9. CANDU REACTORS FAQ
Atomic Energy Canada Ltd (AECL)

9.1 What does "CANDU" mean?
CANDU (a registered trademark) stands for "Canada Deuterium Uranium". It is a pressurized-heavy-water, natural-uranium power
reactor designed first in the 1960's by a consortium of Canadian government and private industry. All power reactors in Canada are of
the CANDU type (of varying vintage). It is also the power-reactor product marketed by Canada abroad.
The CANDU designer is AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited), a federal crown corporation. Over 150 private companies in
Canada supply components for the CANDU system. AECL takes the lead role in developing the markets and projects, while drawing
in Canadian and off-shore partners. In general, AECL acts as project integrator; most of the revenues flow to private industry.
9.2 What are the distinguishing characteristics of CANDU reactors?
The CANDU reactor uses natural uranium fuel and heavy water (D
2
O) as both moderator and coolant (the moderator and coolant
are separate systems). It is refuelled at full-power, a capability provided by the subdivision of the core into hundreds of separate
pressure tubes. Each pressure tube holds a single string of natural uranium fuel bundles (each bundle half a meter long and weighing
about 20 kg) immersed in heavy-water coolant, and can be thought of as one of many separate "mini-pressure-vessel reactors" - highly
sub-critical of course. Surrounding each pressure tube a low-pressure, low-temperature moderator, also heavy water, fills the space
between neighbouring pressure tubes.
The cylindrical tank containing the pressure tubes and moderator, called the "calandria", sits on its side. Thus, the CANDU core is
horizontal. A fuelling machine visits each end of the core, one fuelling and the other de-fuelling, allowing operators to insert fresh fuel
at alternate ends for neighbouring fuel channels. From six to ten bundles are "shuffled" each day.
Axial flux-shaping is thus provided by fuel management, as is (to a certain extent) radial and azimuthal flux-shaping. Long-term
reactivity control is also achieved through fuel management (i.e., the ability to refuel on-line precludes the need for reactivity
suppression over a core's life). Short-term reactivity control is provided by controllable light-water compartments, as well as absorber
rods.
Thermal hydraulically, the core of most CANDU reactors is divided into two halves, with the divider line running vertically down the
centre of the reactor face. Each half represents a separate coolant circuit. Heavy water coolant is supplied to the pressure tubes in each
circuit via large headers at each end of the calandria, one pair of headers (inlet/outlet) for each half of the core. The subdivision of the
core into two circuits, plus the fine subdivision into hundreds of interconnected pressure tubes, greatly reduces the effect of a potential
LOCA (Loss-of-Coolant Accident).
9.3 What is "heavy water"?
Heavy Water is the common name for D
2
O, deuterium oxide. It is similar to light water (H
2
O) in many ways, except that the hydrogen
atom in each water molecule is replaced by "heavy" hydrogen, or deuterium (discovered by American chemist H.C. Urey in the early
1930's), making the molecule about 10% heavier than ordinary water. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen containing one neutron.
Chemically, this additional neutron changes things only slightly, but in nuclear terms the difference is significant. For instance, heavy
water is about eight times worse than light water for slowing down ("moderating") neutrons, but its macroscopic absorption cross-
section is over 600 times less, leading to a moderating ratio (the ratio of the two parameters, a useful measure of a moderator's
quality) that is 80 times higher than that of light water.
Heavy water's low absorption cross-section permits the use of natural uranium, which is low in fissile content and would not attain
criticality in a light-water lattice. The lower slowing-down power of heavy water requires a much larger lattice than in light-water
cores; however, the larger lattice allows space at the core end faces for on-line refuelling, as well as space between channels for
control rods, in-core detectors, and other non-fuel components.
In the past all of the heavy water for Canada's domestic and export needs has been extracted from ordinary water, where deuterium
(heavy hydrogen) occurs naturally as roughly one part in 7000 (almost all in the form of singly-deuterated water, HDO). For bulk
commercial production, the primary extraction process takes advantage of the temperature-dependence of the exchange of deuterium
between water and hydrogen-sulphide gas. In a typical heavy water extraction tower, ordinary water is passed over perforated trays
through which the gas is bubbled. In the "hot section" of each tower the deuterium will migrate to the hydrogen-sulphide gas, and in
the "cold section" this deuterium migrates back into cold feed water.
In a multistage process, the water is passed through several extraction towers in series, ending with a distillation process that
completes the enrichment to "reactor-grade" heavy water, nominally 99.75 wt% D2O. During operation a CANDU plant will be
Page 42 of 52
required to periodically upgrade its inventory of heavy water (using a distillation process), since a purity decrease of only 0.1 wt% can
seriously affect the efficiency of the reactor's fuel utilization.
AECL is currently working on new heavy-water production processes based on catalyst technology. CECE and CIRCE are based on
electrolytic hydrogen and reformed hydrogen, respectively. CIRCE could be on the side stream of a fertilizer or hydrogen-production
plant, for example. AECL currently has a prototype CIRCE unit operating at a small hydrogen-production plant in Hamilton, Ontario.
These catalyst technologies are more environmentally benign than the gas-extraction process they would replace.
This process of "enriching" the moderator, rather than the fuel, is expensive and is part of the reason for the slightly larger capital cost
of CANDU reactors compared to light-water reactors (heavy water represents about 20% of the capital cost). However, since the
fuelling cost of a CANDU reactor is much lower than that of light-water, enriched-uranium reactors, the lifetime-averaged costs are
comparable.
Heavy water has an alternate attraction for scientists seeking the elusive neutrino particle. In Canada's Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
(SNO) Project, about 1000 tonnes of heavy water are used as an interaction medium in which to track the passage of neutrinos from
the sun. The heavy water is held in a large acrylic container two kilometers deep in the Canadian Shield, surrounded by
photomultiplier detectors.
9.4 How does a CANDU reactor refuel on-power?
On-power refuelling is one of the unique features of the CANDU system. Due to the low excess reactivity of a natural-uranium fuel
cycle, the core is designed to be continuously "stoked" with new fuel, rather than completely changed in a batch process (as in LWRs
and BWRs). This reduces core excess reactivity, and the requirement for burnable poisons, which in turn increases fuel burn-up (i.e.,
decreases the fuel throughput rate).
Other advantages of on-power refuelling include increased capacity factors (availability of the reactor), the ability to "fine-tune" the
power distribution, the ability to detect and remove defective fuel, and a minimization of power perturbations due to refuelling.
On-power refuelling is achieved with two identical fuelling machines that latch on to opposing ends of a designated channel. Each
machine, operated remotely from the control room, includes a magazine capable of either discharging new fuel or accepting spent fuel.
With both machines latched on and brought up to system pressure, the ends of the fuel channel are opened up and new fuel is
exchanged for old fuel - one machine discharging and the other accepting. The direction of fuelling is alternated in neighbouring
channels to reduce asymmetries in the axial flux.
Both machines then disengage from the fuel channel, and the machine containing spent fuel travels to the discharge room, where it
transfers its load to the spent fuel storage facility.
A channel is chosen for refuelling based upon several criteria, derived from both core-tracking simulation software and actual core
instrumentation. The primary criterion is high burn-up, but attention is also paid to minimization of the refuelling power "ripple",
prevention of "hot spots", symmetry across the core, refuelling at alternate ends of the core, removal of experimental or defective
bundles, maintaining an equal number of refuelled channels per zone, minimization of zone control level disparity, and striving for a
uniform channel visit rate per week.
9.5 How is fission energy converted to electrical energy in CANDU plants?
In the CANDU design, as with the PWR design, the heat of fission is transferred, via a primary water coolant, to a secondary water
system. The two water systems "meet" in a bank of steam generators, where the heat from the first system causes the second system
(at lower pressure) to boil. This steam is then dried (liquid droplets removed, since they can damage turbine blades) and passed to a
series of high-pressure and low-pressure steam turbines. The turbines are connected in series to an electrical generator. The primary
water system, which becomes radioactive over time, does not leave the reactor's containment building.
It is a highly complex system from start to finish, but the critical point, in terms of efficiency, is the steam generator step in the
middle. Here the primary energy is transformed into a motive force that will do the mechanical work (on the turbine) for which the
reactor plant was designed. The steam generators in CANDU plants differ from those in PWR plants, because their primary water
system is different; besides the material itself (heavy water vs. light water), this applies to the chemistry, pressure, and temperature.
CANDU steam generators were developed with aid from engineering companies in the United States, but on an independent track as
dictated by the unique requirements of the CANDU process system.
Most CANDU steam generators are U-bend tube-in-shell designs, with both an integral pre-heater section and an integral dryer
centrifuge on top. This leads them to have a characteristic "light-bulb" shape.
Page 43 of 52

9.6 How many different CANDU designs are there?
All CANDU reactors follow the same basic design, although variations can be found in most units. Power output in currently-
operating units ranges from 125 MWe up to over 900 MWe, the main determinant being the number of fuel channels in the core.
Ontario Power Generation (formerly Ontario Hydro) units tend to share a single containment system in a multi-unit station, while the
commercial units sold to other Canadian utilities, as well as abroad, tend to have stand-alone containment like that found in other
nuclear plant designs.
All of the CANDU units sold abroad, with the exception of the early units sold to India and Pakistan, are of the "CANDU 6" design -
with power output in the 700 MWe range. The other design marketed by AECL is the "CANDU 9", in the 900 MWe range. In
addition, there are several advanced-CANDU products in development by AECL.
9.7 How do CANDU reactors rank in performance against other designs?
CANDU performance ratings (percentage of production against rated capacity) have traditionally led all other designs, primarily due
to the on-line refuelling capability. In recent years PWR performance has improved, while some older CANDU units have suffered
extended outages for projects like pressure-tube replacement. Today the average lifetime performance rating of the world-wide
CANDU fleet is comparable to its nearest competitors (PWRs and BWRs), and over 10 points higher if one considers only the
commercial CANDU 6 units that actually compete against PWR's in the market for new capacity.

9.8 How do CANDU reactors achieve high neutron economy?
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the CANDU design is its high neutron economy, a term used to describe the efficiency
with which a critical system uses neutrons. High neutron economy is essential to the viability of a natural-uranium fuel cycle. In the
CANDU system neutron economy is maximized by:
using heavy water and zirconium alloys as main constituent materials in the core (for low absorption),
applying strict control of impurities in component materials,
having a large-volume, low-temperature (70 deg.C) moderator, which permits thermalization to a low temperature (high
fission cross-section) far from absorbing materials, and
using on-power refuelling for long-term reactivity management. This means that there is no need to stock the core with
enough excess reactivity to last a year or so without refuelling, as in other reactor designs, which also removes the need to
add burnable poison to the core to suppress this reactivity early in the core's life.
9.9 What fuel cycles can CANDU reactors adapt to?
Its high neutron economy allows the CANDU design to potentially utilize a variety of different fuel cycles, including MOX and
Th/U233 cycles (the latter, in one particular manifestation, achieving "near-breeder" status).
CANDU reactors can also burn spent PWR fuel, since the U-235 content in this fuel is still slightly enriched over natural fuel. The
South Koreans are especially interested in this potential synergism between PWR and CANDU reactors, since they operate both types.
Recently, CANDU technology has been considered by the U.S. D.O.E. as a vehicle for denaturing weapons-grade plutonium declared
surplus after the warming of the Cold War. See the next section for more details.
Another interesting fuel cycle option is the use of Recovered Uranium, which is a natural byproduct of LWR reprocessing. Recovered
Uranium is about 0.9% enriched, and thus falls within the broader category of SEU (Slightly-Enriched Uranium - 0.9% to 1.2%) fuel
cycles being considered for CANDU usage.
CANDU reactors may also play a role in fuel waste management, by being able to burn actinides without creating more actinides. In
this strategy, waste actinides would be mixed within an inert matrix and burned in a CANDU core.
9.10 What is CANFLEX fuel?
CANFLEX (CANDU Flexible Fuelling) is an advanced fuel design developed by AECL since the mid-1980s, and currently
undergoing "in situ" testing in the Point Lepreau CANDU reactor in New Brunswick, Canada. CANFLEX is similar in many ways to
existing CANDU fuel, but incorporates several key modifications that improve the performance of the fuel. The CANFLEX bundle
has 43 fuel pins instead of 37, and utilizes two different pin diameters. This reduces the power rating of the hottest pins in the bundles,
for the same total bundle power output. Also, the CANFLEX design incorporates special geometry modifications that enhance the heat
transfer between the fuel and surrounding coolant.
Page 44 of 52
The use of CANFLEX fuel allows utilities to operate their CANDU reactors more efficiently, especially as they age. This is of
particular importance to first-generation CANDU 6 plants like Point Lepreau in New Brunswick. Point Lepreau recently participated
in a co-operative program with AECL to test CANFLEX fuel under operational reactor conditions. Over a two-year period ending in
August 2000, the Point Lepreau station derived energy from a total of 24 CANFLEX bundles (about 0.5% of a core load), as part of a
programme to demonstrate viability of the concept in a working reactor.
CANFLEX is also the "carrier" of choice for introducing advanced fuel cycles into CANDU reactors; however, this aspect is not
relevant to Point Lepreau, which hopes simply to improve the performance of its current natural-uranium fuel cycle using CANFLEX.
Bringing a new fuel design to the point of "in situ" testing is not a trivial process. The CANFLEX design has gone through a three-
stage review and approval process, and was formally reviewed by a panel of industry experts. This was followed by a detailed review
by utility staff, and a final review and approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
9.11 What is "Next-Generation CANDU"?
Next-Generation CANDU technology [1] represents the continuing evolution of CANDU design to match changing market
conditions. This new development maintains proven elements of existing CANDU design, while making some significant
modifications:
compact reactor core design, reducing size by a factor of one third for the same power output;
improved thermal efficiency through higher-pressure steam turbines;
reduced use of heavy water (one quarter of the heavy water required for existing plants, thus reducing cost and eliminating
many material handling concerns;
use of slightly enriched uranium to extend fuel life to three times that of existing natural uranium fuel (reducing fuel waste
volume by two-thirds); and
further additions to CANDU's inherent passive safety.
It is expected that the capital cost of constructing these plants will be reduced by up to 40% compared to current plants.
9.12 How are CANDU reactors controlled?
CANDU reactors are controlled by two independent digital computers, both monitoring plant status continuously but only one in
control at any time (the other as backup).
Reactor shutdown occurs by two independent, fast-acting systems: Shutdown System 1 (SDS 1) consists of cadmium rods (28 in the
CANDU-6 design) that drop by gravity into the core; Shutdown System 2 (SDS 2), in most CANDU designs, works by high-pressure
injection of a liquid poison (gadolinium nitrate) into the low-pressure moderator. Each shutdown system is independently capable of
shutting down the reactor safely, based on trip signals received through independent triplicated-logic detector systems.
Fine adjustments to the power distribution in a CANDU core, as well as bulk reactivity control, are effected by a set of Liquid Zone
Controllers. These are controllable light-water-filled compartments (14 in CANDU-6) located one per spatial "zone" of the core.
Each controller is associated with two self-powered in-core flux detectors (28 in total for CANDU-6) responsible for characterizing
the average flux in their associated zone. Absolute power levels are obtained by calibrating these signals against thermal
measurements.
Long-term reactivity control and flux shaping are effected with fuel-management, since CANDU reactors can be refuelled on-line.
Flux-shaping is also possible with a set of Adjuster Rods (21 in CANDU-6), made of stainless steel or cobalt (this is how commercial
cobalt-60 is manufactured in some Canadian CANDU units).
Another purpose of these Adjuster Rods is to extend the range of the regulating system in the positive direction (beyond that available
from the liquid zone controllers). Extension of the range in the negative direction is provided by Mechanical Control Absorbers
(four in CANDU-6), physically similar to the shutoff rods but not associated with the safety systems. These rods are used for rapid
reduction in core power, at a rate or range unachievable with the liquid zone controllers.
In most CANDU designs, detailed flux-mapping throughout the core is achieved with a highly-distributed array of self-powered
vanadium detectors (102 in CANDU-6). The mapping software uses this feedback, along with a database of known harmonics of
possible CANDU flux shapes (normal and abnormal), to build up a three-dimensional picture of the neutron flux everywhere in the
core. This information is used to continuously calibrate the zone control detectors, as well as provide empirical feedback to the fuel-
management software.
Page 45 of 52
Moderator poisons are not used for long-term reactivity control in CANDU reactors. Boron is used during initial fresh-fuel
conditions (along with some depleted uranium fuel bundles for flux flattening). Gadolinium is used for xenon compensation following
long shutdowns. Both these poisons are part of the moderator chemical control system, which is independent of the high-pressure
nozzle injection system used for Shutdown System 2.
9.13 How is core refurbishment part of CANDU life management?
CANDU reactors, like automobiles, are designed to have major components replaced part way though their lifespan. From the first
prototype (NPD, 1962) to the latest CANDU 6, CANDU 9, and CANDU NG designs, removal and replacement of pressure tubes,
calandria tubes, feeder tubes, and other primary system "plumbing" has been an important part of the life management plan.
The primary reason for this is the limited life of these components under the harsh conditions of reactor operation. Zirconium alloy
pressure tubes, in particular, are bombarded intensely by neutrons under immense heat and pressure, resulting in life-shortening
metallurgical changes (e.g. pressure tubes grow several inches during their time in the reactor, and at the same time become more
brittle). The monitoring of this situation is an on-going process throughout the reactor's life, and at any time a given pressure tube can
be removed for inspection and replacement.
Eventually a point is reached, roughly mid-way in the life cycle, where large-scale replacement of these primary components becomes
necessary. The Pickering-A station near Toronto, Ontario, went through a complete pressure-tube replacement program in the 1980s.
The Pt. Lepreau station in New Brunswick is currently undergoing a business-case evaluation that may see a similar large scale
refurbishment as early as 2006 (23 years into its lifespan). If that project proceeds, the refurbished Pt. Lepreau will run for another 25
to 30 years. Pt. Lepreau currently supplys one-third of the electricity demand in New Brunswick.
In the case of Pt. Lepreau, the refurbishment would include all pressure and calandria tubes, end-fittings, and feeders, and take place
over an 18-month outage.
9.14 Why is the fuel lumped in CANDU reactor?
The Resonance region presents absorption peaks between fast and thermal energies (see previous slide).
Configuring the fuel in lumps (channels), each surrounded by a volume of moderator, encourages the
scenario in which neutrons:
exit from fuel into moderator
are slowed down through (and below) resonance range away from fuel and resonance absorption
re-enter a fuel region as thermal neutrons to continue the chain reaction see Figure. Thus resonance escape increases dramatically
when fuel is lumped.











Page 46 of 52
10. Research Reactors in India and their Utilisation
S.K. Sharma
Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board

10.1 Research Reactors in India
The Indian nuclear programme started with the building of a 1 MWt pool type reactor APSARA in the year 1956 at the Bhabha
Atomic Research Centre (BARC). The 40 MWt CIRUS reactor and a critical facility ZERLINA were subsequently set-up during 1960
and 1961 respectively. ZERLINA was decommissioned in 1983 after it had served its intended purpose of carrying out reactor physics
experiments related to research and power reactors.
With the availability of expertise and experience in diverse scientific and engineering disciplines we were able to build a 100 MWt
DHRUVA reactor in 1985 through totally indigenous efforts. DHRUVA is one of the few versatile high power research reactors in the
world and its commissioning gave a big boost to the basic and applied research activities and radioisotope production in the country.
Existence of these reactors also gave rise to installation of facilities for fuel fabrication, waste management, isotope processing, heavy
water upgradation, spent fuel reprocessing and several laboratories for scientific and engineering work. With this, BARC became a
truly multi-disciplinary research centre.
The long range Indian nuclear power programme envisages utilization of fast neutron reactors for production of
233
U in the Thorium
blanket which would eventually lead to operating the nuclear power plants on Thorium-
233
U fuel cycle. In this direction, a Fast
Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) of 40 MWt capacity was set-up at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in 1985.
FBTR uses U-Pu Carbide fuel and liquid sodium as primary and secondary coolant.
A 30 KWt research reactor KAMINI using
233
U as fuel was installed at IGCAR and commissioned in 1996. Kamini is being primarily
utilized for carrying out neutron radiography of the irradiated fuel elements and some of the in-core components of FBTR. It is also
used for neutron activation analysis work and for carrying out investigations in radiation physics. A prototype of the core of KAMINI
was earlier installed in the Critical Facility PURNIMA at BARC and made critical during 1990 for assessing its reactor physics
parameters. PURNIMA was earlier made operational with PuO
2
fuel in pellet form in 1972 and later modified to use
233
U in Uranyl
nitrate solution form as fuel in 1984.
A Compact High Temperature Reactor (CHTR) with 100 kW thermal power rating for electricity generation in remote areas not
connected to the grid as small unattended power packs and also for the production of alternative transportation fuel such as hydrogen
and refinement of low- grade coal and oil deposits to recover fossil fluid fuel is under development at BARC. This reactor is designed
essentially on the same lines as the thorium based reactor with a compact core and passive heat removal, power regulation and shut
down facilities incorporated. Studies related to heat transfer and fluid flow analyses have been carried out to optimize the size and
geometry of the CHTR.

10.2 Neutron Beam Research
APSARA, CIRUS and DHRUVA have been extensively used in frontier areas of neutron beam research. Complete expertise in
neutron beam research in the areas of crystallography, magnetic scattering and inelastic scattering has been developed around
indigenously built instruments. This has given information on structures of amino acids, ferrites, magnetic alloys, high temperature
super-conductors and a number of other systems showing interesting phase transitions.
Over the years, capabilities have been developed for in-house design and fabrication of experimental set-ups for neutron beam
utilization. Neutron spectrometers made at BARC have also been supplied to Philippines, Korea and Bangladesh. A delta-T window
spectrometer fabricated at BARC has been installed at the Pulsed Spallation Neutron Source at the Rutherford Appleton Lab in UK.
Several components for the newly designed instrument "OSIRIS" have also been fabricated in this centre.

10.3 Neutron Activation Analysis
Neutrons available in the research reactors can be used for activating most of the elements giving rise to activation products whose
activity can be measured for analysis of trace elements in the material. This technique is known as Neutron Activation Analysis
(NAA). This enables quantitative analysis of trace elements down to concentration levels below one part in a billion and even lower
for certain elements. NAA is selective and enables multi-element analysis. Neutron activation analysis has several applications like in
environmental, minerals, sediments, plant materials studies and in forensic science. For example, it is used in ballistic, toxicology and
source correspondence of materials between those found at the scene of crime and that collected from the suspect. Its application in
environmental and life science have been in monitoring levels of trace elements in air, soil, water, tissue and body fluids.

10.4 Neutron Radiography
Using this technique, light elements inside a composite material can be easily identified, just like images of high density materials are
taken through X-raying. This method has been used successfully for confirming that all components in a device used in the space
Page 47 of 52
research applications have been fully assembled in the required configuration before the device is lifted on to the space vehicle. An
important application in the recent past has been for determining the presence or otherwise of localized high concentration of hydrides
in the Zirconium alloy pressure tubes used in Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor based nuclear power plants in the country. As already
stated earlier, the KAMINI reactor is used for neutron radiography of the irradiated fuel and in-core components of FBTR.

10.5 Fuel and Material Testing
Research reactors are used for irradiation testing of nuclear fuel and structural materials proposed to be used in both research and
power reactors. For example, the prototype fuel for DHRUVA was first subjected to irradiation testing in the CIRUS reactor before its
actual use in DHRUVA. In CIRUS, a pressurised water loop exists where the coolant temperature and pressure conditions are similar
to those existing in our power reactors. The loop has been extensively utilised for irradiation testing of PHWR fuel, mixed oxide fuel
etc. A pressurised water loop of higher capacity is under installation in DHRUVA which will be used for irradiation testing of the fuel
for 500 MW(e) power reactors. Detailed assessment of the fuel irradiated in the loops is carried out in the hot cells of the post-
irradiation examination laboratories of BARC.
In addition to fuel irradiation, CIRUS and DHRUVA have also been extensively used for irradiation testing of structural materials of
power reactor's such as for assessment of irradiation induced creep of Zirconium materials and for carrying out radiation
embrittlement study of materials used in power reactor components. Research reactors are also used on a regular basis for testing of
nuclear detectors.
10.6 Radioisotope Production
One of the major areas of utilisation of research reactors is production of radioisotopes. While this programme got initiated in our
country in the mid-fifties with the setting up of APSARA, the regular supply of isotopes for various applications commenced in early
sixties after the 40 MWt CIRUS reactor became operational. With the commissioning of DHRUVA in 1985, isotope production got a
further boost and today there are over 1000 user institutions which utilise radioisotopes on regular basis. While the major isotopes
produced regularly are
131
I,
125
I,
99
Mo,
60
Co,
32
P,
35
S,
192
Ir,
82
Br,
51
Cr ,
46
Sc and
198
Au, there are several other isotopes which are
produced in small quantities for specific purposes on as required basis.

10.7 Education and training
Utilisation of neutron beams in CIRUS and DHRUVA for condensed matter research and fission physics investigations has been an
important field of research in frontier areas of science. In addition to scientists at BARC, research scholars from other institutes in
India and abroad utilise the facilities at these two research reactors extensively. DHRUVA has been declared as a National Facility
and under the aegis of the Inter- University Consortium for Department of Atomic Energy Facilities, Indian University scientists
utilise the experimental facilities at DHRUVA and are able to gain hands-on experience in neutron beam research.
The rich experience gained in the design, construction and operation of CIRUS and DHRUVA has been extremely useful towards
generating technical know-how and training of manpower for our nuclear programme. Several of the senior personnel in our nuclear
facilities as also in the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board received their initial training in CIRUS. The staff in a reactor plant should be
capable of taking on-the-spot decisions and prompt corrective actions during normal operation as well as during any abnormal
situation that may arise. Towards achieving these objectives, a well organised training and qualification programme is in existence in
CIRUS and DHRUVA and more than 700 professionals and technicians have been trained over the years. More than 200 of these
trained personnel were deputed to the nuclear power activities and our other nuclear installations.
10.8 Refurbishing Activities and shut down
Since CIRUS has been in operation since 1960, detailed ageing studies were carried out during 1992-1995 for assessing the condition
of its systems, structures and components after this long service period. Based on these studies, refurbishing requirements were
identified and the reactor has been shut down since October 1997 for carrying out a comprehensive refurbishing. During this work,
provisions were also made for hooking-up a small desalination unit to CIRUS for demonstration of desalination of sea water by the
low temperature vacuum evaporation process using waste heat from a research reactor. The capacity of the desalination unit is 30 tons
per day. The output water is passed through a mixed bed ion exchanger. The refurbishing was completed in 2003 and normal
operation began in 2004. The reactor was shut down in 2010 as per of the Indo US nuclear accord.
It is also planned to carry out refurbishing of APSARA reactor after the job of CIRUS refurbishing is completed. Together with
refurbishing, the design of APSARA will also be modified whereby the reactor core inside the pool will be surrounded by an annular
tank containing heavy water to serve as neutron reflector. This will provide enhanced irradiation volume and good neutron flux over a
large radial distance from the core such that the neutron beam tubes and most of the irradiation facilities can be located inside the
reflector tank. This modification will serve as a technology simulation of the basic design of a 5/10 MWt Multi Purpose Research
Reactor (MPRR) that has been worked out in BARC in the recent past. It will also significantly enhance the utility of APSARA
reactor. MPRR will be LEU fuelled. 19.7% U235 dispersion type silicide fuel is proposed. It will be light water cooled, and
moderated, but heavy water will be used as reflector. The power level will be 5-10 MW. The heavy water reflector will be contained
in an annular tank surrounding the core, thereby enhancing the neutron flux irradiation volume of the reactor.
Page 48 of 52
Availability of CIRUS reactor cannot be ensured with a good degree of certainty after 10-15 years, inspite of the refurbishing
actions on hand. By around 2010, DHRUVA would also be 25 years old. Taking these facts into account together with the significant
enhancement expected in the requirements of radioisotopes over the next few decades, the need for setting up a new research reactor
has been identified. It is, therefore, planned to install a new research reactor. The basic design of the proposed reactor will be similar
to that of DHRUVA with appropriate modifications in the design incorporated based on operating experience.
Work has also been initiated for establishing a new critical facility for carrying out experiments related to the reactor physics
aspects of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) whose design is being worked out in BARC. This facility will also be utilised
for carrying out reactor physics experiments related to our 500 MWe PHWRs

10.9 Conclusion
Research reactors have proved very useful for conduct of basic and applied research, and to carry out irradiation testing of fuels and
materials. They have also contributed immensely to generation of trained manpower and development of in-house technological
capabilities towards providing effective support to our nuclear power programme. Radioisotope production and their applications in a
variety of medical, industrial and bio-technological areas is another very important field of their utilisation with significant societal
benefits. CIRUS has been refurbished towards life extension. This will be followed by refurbishment and design modification of
APSARA. Taking into account of the ageing aspects of the existing reactors and the increasing demand of radioisotopes, it is proposed
to set-up a new research reactor at Visakhapatnam. A new critical facility is also being set-up for carrying out reactor physics
experiments for AHWR and 500 MWe PHWRs.



Table 1. Salient features of Research Reactors in India

Reactor Type First
criticality
Rated Th.
power
Fuel Moderator Coolant Max.Th
n/cm
2
/sec

BARC, Trombay
APSARA Pool 1956 1 MW Enriched-
U
H
2
O H
2
O 10
13

CIRUS Tank 1960 40 MW Natural-U D
2
O H
2
O 6.7x 10
13

ZERLINA Tank 1961 -- Natural-U D
2
O --
PURNIMA-
I
Tank 1972 -- PuO
2
-Al -- --
PURNIMA-
II
Tank 1984 --
233
U nitrate H
2
O --
PURNIMA-
III
Tank 1990 --
233
U rods H
2
O --
DHRUVA Tank 1985 100 MW Natural-U D
2
O D
2
O 1.8 x 10
14


IGCAR, Kalpakkam
FBTR Loop 1985 40 MW (U,Pu)C -- Liquid Na --
KAMINI Tank 1996 30 KW
233
U H
2
O H
2
O 10
12






Dr. Palanki Balakrishna obtained B.Tech (Honours), M. Tech and Ph.D degrees, all from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay,
specializing in Metallurgical Engg and Materials Science. He worked at the Atomic Fuels Division at BARC, Mumbai and at CFFP,
EFFP, FBRC, EUOP, CEs Office, R&D and HRD, Special Materials Plant and Melt Shops at NFC, Hyderabad. He was given
Engineer of the Year 1992 Award by the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Best Metallurgist 1995 Award by the Government of
India for his innovations in process technology. He also received award for Meritorious Performance from NFC in 1996. He has 65
publications in national and international journals. Four of these are on Engineering Education. He was a guest speaker at North
Carolina State University, Florida State University, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, University of South
Florida and Wright State University in the US. He presented technical papers in Japan, Italy and Russia and chaired sessions. He also
presented papers in Italy. He is also Guest Faculty Member at the Engineering Staff College of India, National Thermal Power
Corporation, MIDHANI etc. His biography appeared in Marquis Whos Who in the World (16
th
Ed, 1999, p.1226) and other similar
publications. He has been teaching at Gurukul since its inception. He is currently the principal of an engineering college in Hyderabad.


Page 49 of 52
11. Review Questions

1. In the form of a table, compare fission and fusion processes.
2. List or sketch the various stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. What is once through (open ended) fuel cycle? In which country is
it being adopted? List two countries in which nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities are available.
3. Why is nuclear fuel cycle referred to as a cycle? (Where does the cycle begin and where does it end)?
4. Which stages in the nuclear fuel cycle come under front end and which ones under back end?
5. What are the three stages in the Indian nuclear power programme? List the fissile and fertile material in each stage.
6. What are the different methods of mining uranium?
7. Write short notes on (i) uranium from (phosphate) fertilizer production (ii) uranium from sea water.
8. Sketch how the flux varies across a nuclear reactor core with and without reflectors?
9. The fission of a U
235
nucleus gave xenon as one fission product. What is the other fission product than neutrons? How much
energy is released in the event? How much energy is released in the combustion of a single atom of carbon?
10. What limits the non-fissile material quantity in a nuclear reactor?
11. List all the forces acting in / on a nuclear fuel element.
12. What is a bath tub curve in the context of nuclear fuel elements? What are the zones in the bath tub curve? What can be done
to curtail infant mortality? What can be done to extend the design limit?
13. What changes take place in the material of a bridge and that of a nuclear fuel after one year of use?
14. List two functions of the cladding material.
15. Can a low melting eutectic form between uranium metal fuel and stainless steel cladding?
16. What is the purpose of providing machined-on fins in stainless steel cladding of gas cooled fast reactor and the advanced gas
cooled reactor, or spiral fins extruded on aluminium or magnox in CO
2
cooled or air cooled thermal reactors?
17. Why is corrosion not a problem in aluminium cladding in a research reactor?
18. Which cladding material has been chosen for corrosion resistance against carbon dioxide coolant?
19. With which impurities is breakaway corrosion of zirconium associated? Which alloying elements in zirconium tend to reduce
film cracking?
20. Which is better Zr-4 or Zr-2 with respect to hydrogen uptake?
21. Can (nonmetallic) slag inclusions be tolerated in the thin walled cladding tubes? Which melting process would you
recommend to prevent slag inclusions?
22. Compare, as cladding materials, austenitic stainless steel with ferritic stainless steel, with respect to crystal structure,
fabricability and radiation damage.
23. What is sunburst on the inside of cladding tube due to? What is the remedy? In which type of cladding material is it likely
to appear?
24. The temperature at which metallic uranium or plutonium can operate in contact with stainless steel is limited by the
formation of low melting point eutectics of U and Pu with Fe, Cr and Ni. In the uranium case this is around 750
o
C. Is the
temperature less or more for plutonium?
25. In work hardening, the loss of ductility is due to the build up of dislocation networks, which hinder the passage of other
dislocations. In precipitation hardening the small precipitates hinder dislocation motion. In radiation damage, what are the
entities that hinder dislocation motion?
26. In 1967, a radiation effect was first observed when stainless steel irradiated to a high fluence in the Dounreay Fast Reactor
was examined in an electron microscope. The structure was seen to resemble Swiss cheese, being full of many small holes or
voids. How did the voids originate? Why did not the voids collapse into flat plates?
27. A subassembly is sufficiently large that one side may be exposed to a higher flux (and fluence) than the other, i.e., the side
nearer to the core centre will swell more rapidly than the opposite face, producing a bimetallic strip effect leading to
bowing. If allowed to proceed unchecked, this could result in jamming of the core so that unloading becomes impossible.
Suggest one solution to the problem.
28. The clad material in FBTR has been SS 316, cold worked to 20% for strength. For PFBR however, D9 has been chosen as the
cladding material. In what way D9 is different from SS 316? What may be the reasons for its choice?
29. The core and hence the fuel element are designed, built, operated and refined in an iterative process Explain.
30. What makes nuclear fuel element design and development particularly difficult?
31. What are the advantages and disadvantages of metallic fuel?
32. What are the advantages of UO
2
ceramic fuel?
33. What are the advantages of dispersion fuels? Where was such a fuel used? What materials are suitable for the matrix?
34. Which type of fuel, metallic or ceramic would you recommend for a military reactor?
35. To what limit the fissile content is restricted for a fuel to be proliferation resistant ? (20%)
36. Normally, metallic fuel is used in research reactors and ceramic fuel in power reactors. Which type of power reactor used
natural uranium metal fuel to generate power? What were the cladding and coolant materials?
37. Normally, plate type of fuel with enriched uranium is used in research reactors. Which research reactors used natural uranium
rod type of fuel? What were the cladding and coolant materials?
38. What may be the incentive in opting for a metallic fuel for PFBR?
39. What is the motivation for choosing a nuclear reactor to power a submarine?
Page 50 of 52
40. In what ways does a PWR fuel assembly differ from that of a BWR fuel assembly?
41. What is the relationship between specified ceramic fuel density and design burn up?
42. Why is a higher sintered density specified for UO
2
in PHWR than in BWR fuel?
43. Is the temperature uniform across a UO
2
pellet? Why?
44. What was done to reduce zircaloy weight further in PHWR fuel assembly?
45. Why was stainless steel discontinued as a cladding material in PWRs and BWRs?
46. How is the strength of a tube measured in the longitudinal direction? How is it measured in circumferential direction?
47. What is the reason for copper cladding or zircaloy billet before hot extrusion?
48. What is the purpose of beta quenching (heating to 1050
o
C and quenching) of zirconium alloy?
49. Why is silicon carbide preferred over aluminium oxide in belt grinding of zircaloy?
50. Why is pilgering generally preferred against drawing in the cold working of zircaloy tubes?
51. What may be the reason for appearance of white spots on zircaloy?
52. What is meant by Duplex cladding?
53. What is the reason for proposing tin in the lower range of ASTM specification of Zr-4?
54. List three ways of increasing the concentration of point defects in crystalline materials
55. What is the number of cations in the unit cell of UO
2
or ThO
2
?
56. What is the driving force for sintering ?
57. What is the order of specific surface area of UO
2
powder ?
58. How is uranium oxide powder passivated or stabilized against oxidation to U
3
O
8
?
59. What is the U
3
O
8
content in Jaduguda ore and in MDU concentrate?
60. What step has been taken to minimize ammonium nitrate effulent volume in the precipitation of ammonium diuranate?
61. Why is sintering is undesirable in calcination of ammonium diuranate, when it is very desirable in the case of a UO
2

compact?
62. Name two compounds which can be reduced to metallic form using magnesium.
63. What is the change in shape of spheres in contact on sintering ?
64. What reasons make suitable UO
2
as power reactor fuel?
65. How are laminations & end caps generated in green compact ? What are the remedial measures ?
66. By what process the grain boundary energy gets decreased ?
67. What is the effect of excess oxygen in UO
2
on its sinterability ?
68. A researcher determined the activation energy for sintering of two materials UO
2.001
and UO
2.100
and obtained two different
values. To which material does the lower value correspond?
69. How is the excess oxygen in UO
2
maintained in a sintering furnace?
70. List fission products under different categories.
71. What is the source of gas bubble formation in stainless steels under irradiation?
72. What is the temperature range in which vacancies and interstitials in cladding are neither immobile nor too mobile for
recombination? In this critical range, where do interstitials go and where do the vacancies go?
73. In UO
2
sintering which ion diffuses faster, U
4+
or O
2-
?
74. How can diffusion coefficient of U be increased in sintering uranium dioxide?
75. Which types of voids and heating rate lead to bloating (increase in volume) in sintered UO
2
?
76. What is the cause in the green compact (made by uniaxial pressing from either end) that causes hour-glassing in sintered
pellet ? Is hour glassing less or more in sintering of isostatically pressed compacts?
77. What is the difference between the oxides of uranium and plutonium with respect to nonstoichiometry?
78. What is in-reactor fuel densification?
79. Even though the average temperature of the fuel is less than the sintering temperature, densification was found to have
occurred. What may be the reason?
80. What were the consequences of in-reactor fuel densification? How was it avoided in UO
2
? How was clad collapse
prevented?
81. What is the full form of CANDU?
82. What are the distinguishing characteristics of CANDU reactors?
83. How is long term reactivity control achieved in CANDU reactors?
84. How is short term reactivity control achieved in CANDU reactors?
85. What is the full form of DUPIC? Why is Dupic fuel being developed?
86. What is the advantage of CANFLEX bundle? What is meant by FLEX?
87. What is adjusted uranium?
88. How can the incidence of fuel failures be shown as a function of burn-up or time?
89. When do we prefer plate type geometry? Why? Which research reactors use plate type fuel in India? Why is plate type fuel is
not being used in CIRUS and DHRUVA?
90. Can natural Uranium be a fuel for plate type geometry? Why?
91. What is the difference in fuel and cladding with respect to damage-causing irradiation? In what way the fuel is damaged? In
what way the clad is damaged?
92. What are the advantages of using burnable poison?
Page 51 of 52
93. What is the advantage of a hollow ceramic fuel pellet?
94. How far does a fission fragment travel before it comes to rest in the fuel?
95. What may be the cause of swelling in fuel?
96. What is the effect of fuel grain size on swelling? Does a large grain size mean less swelling?
97. Which is likely to swell more uranium oxide or uranium carbide?
98. Give two reasons why the pellet may touch the cladding?
99. What is Pellet Clad interaction? In what ways graphite coating of the clad tube help?
100. Explain the effect of Q factor in cold working on the texture of zircaloy in the case of fuel tubes.
101. Write a note on the history of development of zircaloy
102. In what way zircaloy composition is being improved? Why?
103. What is duplex cladding? Why is it being considered?
104. What are the uses / applications of research reactors?
105. Which technique from a nuclear reactor has been used in forensic science?
106. Which reactor is being used for neutron radiography?
107. List some features of Advanced Heavy Water Reactor fuel
108. When carbide fuel worked very well for FBTR, why is mixed oxide fuel chosen for PFBR?
109. In which direction do the crystals of zirconium tend to orient in the cold working of zircaloy?
110. What are inert matrix fuels?
111. What is meant by fuel subdivision? What is linear heat generation rate?
112. Which materials are commonly used in control rods?
113. What is the difference between the terms granules and agglomerates in the context of UO
2
powder?
114. Both UO
2
and UC possess the crystal structure FCC. What is the difference between the two structures? Which common
materials have these structures by whose name they are referred to?
115. What is cheese cake in the context of a nuclear reactor?
116. In cold worked materials, the higher strength ( and loss of ductility) is due to the obstruction of dislocations movement by
precipitates or impurities. What is obstructing dislocation movement in the case of irradiated materials?
117. Give two reasons as to why hydride failure is more likely in LWR cladding than in HWR cladding.
118. What is meant by rod cluster control and in which type of reactor is it used?
119. What is meant by failure of a fuel rod?
120. In what way does the graphite coating of the inner side of the fuel tube help?
121. In oxide fuel, restructuring was observed. Why is there no restructuring in carbide and nitride fuels?
122. What is picture framing? Name atleast one reactor (and its location in India) for which the technique was used in fuel
fabrication.
123. What is the type of fuel being developed to dispose off military plutonium?
124. Comment on the suitability of zirconium alloy as container material for disposal of nuclear waste.
125. Compare stainless steel and zirconium alloys only with respect to thermal conductivity and thermal expansion.
126. What is the fuel in TRIGA reactor?
127. What is the non-nuclear use of zirconium alloy?
128. What is the nuclear use of zirconium alloys outside the nuclear reactor?
129. What are the advantages of lumping of fuel in CANDU reactors?
130. What is the function of carbondioxide in between the pressure (coolant) tube and the calandria tube in CANDU?


[2] State true (T) or false (F)

1. Gas Centrifuge is much more energy efficient than a Gaseous Diffusion plant for enriching uranium.
2. In sintering, particle boundaries are substituted by grain boundaries
3. Very coarse particles and agglomerates are undesirable in ceramic powders for sintering
4. Nucleation requires less energy than growth
5. Uranium is/was being enriched at Enriched Uranium Oxide Plant in NFC
6. Heavy water is/was being enriched at Manuguru
7. The limit of hyper stoichiometry in UO
2
increases as temperature increases
8. The diameter of the fully ejected green pellet is larger than that of the die barrel.
9. Reduction of U
3
O
8
to UO
2
is exothermic
10. Oxygen is the slower moving species in UO
2

11. Poor quality assurance during fabrication can lead to infant mortality of fuel assemblies in a reactor core.
12. The PWR assembly is open at the sides, allowing cross-flow of the coolant, independent expansion of the structural
components and the fuel rods.
13. UO
2
has no phase change till melting point.
14. UO
2
, PuO
2
and ThO
2
form mutual solid solutions of any composition
Page 52 of 52
15. The burnable poison Gd
2
O
3
is incorporated in UO
2
to counteract the continuous fall in reactivity of a fuel as the burn-up
proceeds.
16. Zircaloy 4 offers better resistance to hydrogen uptake than Zircaloy 2
17. zirconium hydride has a higher specific volume than zirconium.
18. CANDU reactor can be shut down by gravity drop down of cadmium rods into the core.
19. CANDU reactor can be shut down by injection of gadolinium nitrate into low pressure moderator
20. CANDU flux adjustor rods are made of stainless steel or cobalt.
21. Long term reactivity control and flux shaping are achieved in CANDU reactor by Fuel Management.
22. Accelerator driven system (ADS) is sub critical
23. PWRs provide major share of nuclear power in the world.
24. Cermet fuel with UO
2
particles in a tungsten matrix is being developed by NASA for nuclear thermal propulsion of space
ships, which is expected to replace the chemical fuels.

[3] Tick the correct answer
1. The uranium content in Jaduguda Ore is of the order of
(a) 1.6% (b) 122 ppm (c) 0.07% (d) 0.7%
2. The uranium being obtained by insitu leaching as % of the uranium produced
(a) 0.036 (b) 0.36 (c) 3.6 (d) 36
3. The country that has the largest uranium reserves (40% of the world reserves) is
(a) India (b) USA (c) Khazakstan (d) Australia

4. Open porosity in sintering is eliminated by the time density reaches
(a) 50 (b) 93 (c) 98 (d) 20

[4] Strike off the incorrect words in italics:

The defect end capping occurs during punch withdrawal after compaction / green pellet ejection whereas the defect lamination occurs
during punch withdrawal after compaction / green pellet ejection

The defect end capping can be minimised by improving die bore finish /providing exit taper whereas the defect lamination can be
minimized by improving die bore finish /providing exit taper

[5] Draw the following sketches qualitatively. Values are not required.
In situ leaching of uranium
Incidence of fuel failure versus burnup or time
Compare by sketch of fuel elements thermal and fast reactor fuel design parameters.
Representing a powder particle by a circle, show what the structure is likely to be after sintering. What has happened to the voids and
to curved surfaces / lines?
Reactivity versus burn-up with and without the use of burnable poison.
Weight gain of zirconium or zirconium alloy versus time for 290 and 400 C.
Shrinkage of UO
2
versus time for different temperatures of a compact that is being sintered in a dilatometer.
Schematic microstructure developed in a highly rated UO2 pellet after irradiation.

[6] identify the following
Type of reactor that uses Square array, 17x17 fuel assemblies.
Type of reactor that uses Square array, 6x6 fuel assemblies.
Power from reactor using 19 elements fuel bundle in India
Power from reactor using 37 elements fuel bundle in India
Fuel uranium enrichments used for TAPS 1 & 2
Fuel uranium enrichment used for TAPS 3 & 4
Control rod type, material for TAPS 1 & 2