Neutronics and fuel performance evaluation of accident tolerant FeCrAl cladding under normal operation conditions

Xu Wu, Tomasz Kozlowski, Jason D. Hales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Neutronics and fuel performance analysis is done for enhanced accident tolerance fuel (ATF), with the Monte Carlo reactor physics code Serpent and INL's fuel performance code BISON. The purpose is to evaluate the most promising ATF candidate material FeCrAl, which has excellent oxidation resistance, as fuel cladding under normal operational conditions. Due to several major disadvantages of FeCrAl coating, such as difficulty in fabrication, diametrical compression from reactor pressurization, coating spallation and inter diffusion with zirconium, a monolithic FeCrAl cladding design is suggested. To overcome the neutron penalty expected when using FeCrAl as cladding for current oxide fuel, an optimized FeCrAl cladding design from a detailed parametric study in literature is adopted, which suggests reducing the cladding thickness and slightly increasing the fuel enrichment. A neutronics analysis is done that implementing this FeCrAl cladding design in a Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) single assembly. The results show that the PWR cycle length requirements will be matched, with a slight increase in total plutonium production. Fuel performance analysis with BISON code is carried out to investigate the effects with this FeCrAl cladding design. The results demonstrate that the application of FeCrAl cladding could improve performance. For example, the axial temperature profile is flattened. The gap closure is significantly delayed, which means the pellet cladding mechanical interaction is greatly delayed. The disadvantages for monolithic FeCrAl cladding are that: (1) fission gas release is increased; and (2) fuel temperature is increased, but the increase is less than 50 K even at high burnup. The better strength, corrosion, and embrittlement properties of FeCrAl enable the fabrication of FeCrAl cladding with thinner walls. FeCrAl cladding proves to be a good alternate for zircaloy cladding, given the advantages and insignificant disadvantages shown by fuel performance analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-775
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Nuclear Energy
StatePublished - May 6 2015


  • Accident Tolerant Fuel
  • FeCrAl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering

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