Supercritical water-cooled nuclear reactors (SCWRs) are a Generation IV reactor concept. SCWRs will use a light-water coolant at operating parameters set above the critical point of water (22.1 MPa and ). One reason for moving from current Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) designs to SCW NPP designs is to increase the thermal efficiency. The thermal efficiency of existing NPPs is between 30% and 35% compared with 45% and 50% of supercritical water (SCW) NPPs. Another benefit of SCWRs is the use of a simplified flow circuit, in which steam generators, steam dryers, steam separators, etc. can be eliminated. Canada is in the process of conceptualizing a pressure tube (PT) type SCWR. This concept refers to a PT-type reactor. Coolant operating parameters are as follows: a pressure of 25 MPa, a channel inlet temperature of , and an outlet temperature of . The sheath material and nuclear fuel must be able to withstand these extreme conditions. In general, the primary choice for the sheath is a zirconium alloy and the fuel is an enriched uranium dioxide . The sheath-temperature design limit is , and the industry accepted limit for the fuel centerline temperature is . Previous studies have shown that the maximum fuel centerline temperature of a pellet might exceed this industry accepted limit at SCWR conditions. Therefore, alternative fuels with higher thermal conductivities need to be investigated for SCWR use. Uranium carbide (UC), uranium nitride (UN), and uranium dicarbide are excellent fuel choices as they all have higher thermal conductivities compared with conventional nuclear fuels such as , mixed oxides (MOX), and thoria . Inconel-600 has been selected as the sheath material due its high corrosion resistance and high yield strength in aggressive supercritical water (SCW) at high-temperatures. This paper presents the thermalhydraulics calculations of a generic PT-type SCWR fuel channel with a 43-element Inconel-600 bundle with UC and fuels. The bulk-fluid, sheath and fuel centerline temperature profiles, together with a heat transfer coefficient profile, were calculated for a generic PT-type SCWR fuel-bundle string. Fuel bundles with UC and fuels with various axial heat flux profiles (AHFPs) are acceptable since they do not exceed the sheath-temperature design limit of , and the industry accepted limit for the fuel centerline temperature of . The most desirable case in terms of the lowest fuel centerline temperature is the UC fuel with the upstream-skewed cosine AHFP. In this case, the fuel centerline temperature does not exceed even the sheath-temperature design limit of .
Thermal Aspects of Uranium Carbide and Uranium Dicarbide Fuels in Supercritical Water-Cooled Nuclear Reactors
Grande, L., Villamere, B., Allison, L., Mikhael, S., Rodriguez-Prado, A., and Pioro, I. (October 25, 2010). "Thermal Aspects of Uranium Carbide and Uranium Dicarbide Fuels in Supercritical Water-Cooled Nuclear Reactors." ASME. J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power. February 2011; 133(2): 022901. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4001299
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