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The objective of this program was to develop a fuel design with increased margin to pellet-to-clad interaction (PCI) failure threshold and increased potential for higher burnup. The means by which this objective was to be attained was with annular pellets and zirconium barrier cladding. The annular pellets used have a void volume of approximately 10% higher than comparable solid pellets. Barrier cladding consists of Zircaloy-4 tubes with an integral inner layer of unalloyed zirconium comprising approximately 10% of the total wall thickness. The overall cladding dimensions are the same as the standard cladding. The zirconium barrier cladding is a relatively new design developed to provide resistance to Pd, and improve the capability of reaching a higher burnup while the fuel is subjected to variations in local linear heat generation rates resulting from control rod movements, overall core power maneuvering, and fuel assembly shuffling.
Four Siemens Power Corporation (SPC) 14x14 lead fuel assemblies (XT01, XT02, XT03 and XT04) were inserted into the R.E. Ginna reactor. The program included design and fabrication of the assemblies, irradiation in the R.E. Ginna PWR reactor, poolside examination and measurements, and post irradiation hotcell examination of selected segmented fuel rodlets in the CEA Laboratories in Grenoble, France. The aim of the program was to demonstrate and evaluate the in-reactor performance of the assemblies at high burnup, and the potential of annular pellets and zirconium barrier cladding for resisting fuel failures due to pellet-clad-interaction (PCI).
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Keywords: annular fuel, experimental data, fuel pellets, fuel rods, irradiation, pressurized water reactor.