Sandia Fuel Project (SFP)
Joint project

The goal of the project was to provide experimental data relevant for hydraulic and ignition phenomena of prototypic water reactor fuel assemblies. The intended scope of work was defined in an experts' meeting organised by the NEA. A highly detailed thermal-hydraulic characterisation was performed of full-length, commercial fuel assembly mock-ups to provide data for the direct validation of severe accident codes. Code predictions based on previous results indicated that fuel assemblies could ignite and radially propagate in a complete loss-of-coolant accident. Hence, there was a need for qualified data obtained in representative fuel configurations. The proposed experiments focused on thermal-hydraulic and ignition phenomena in pressurised water reactor (PWR) 17x17 assemblies and supplemented earlier results obtained for boiling water reactor (BWR) assemblies, which were made available to the SFP. It was believed that code validations based on both the PWR and BWR experimental results would considerably enhance the code applicability to other fuel assembly designs and configurations.

The project ran for three years and was conducted in two phases:

  • The first phase focused on axial heating and burn propagation.
  • The second phase addressed radial heating and burn propagation and included effects of fuel rod ballooning.

External article

Zigh, A., and Velazquez-Lozada, A, "Experiments on Ignition of Zirconium-Alloy in a Prototypical Pressurized-Water Reactor Single Fuel Assembly in a Spent Fuel Pool during a Complete Draindown", 2013.


SFP members' area  SFP concluding seminar (password protected | reminder)


Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and United States.

Project period

July 2009-February 2013


USD 5.2 million