Understanding fuel performance is a key condition for successful reactor operation. Scientific knowledge in this domain was conceived by experimental tests encoded into software routines to ensure accurate prediction of fuel performance properties at steady-state and off-normal conditions.
As the first safety barrier reactor operating margins are linked to the underlying mechanisms of fuel-clad barrier phenomena such as fission gas release (FGR), fuel gas swelling, pellet-cladding mechanical interaction (PCMI) and stress corrosion cracking (SCC), they all play an important role in fuel rod integrity and need a strong scientific basis to support predictions.
A community of fuel performance experts was formed within the Expert Group on Reactor Fuel Performance (EGRFP) and is responsible for advancing reactor fuel performance activities.
Under the EGRFP, the NEA has undertaken activities aimed at verification and validation of fuel performance codes and collecting the experimental data that underpins this work. The NEA works closely with the IAEA in collecting experimental data, which led to the creation of the joint International Fuel Performance Experiments (IFPE) collection of experimental data.
The aim of the benchmark is to improve understanding and modelling of pellet-cladding mechanical interaction (PCMI) amongst NEA member organisations. This is achieved by comparing PCMI predictions of different fuel performance codes for a number of cases.