Lead test assemblies of EnCore accident tolerant fuel (ATF) have been installed in Engie Electrabel's Doel unit 4 in Belgium, Westinghouse Electric Company and ENUSA Industrias Avanzadas (ENUSA) have announced. Doel 4 is the second commercial nuclear power plant in the world, and the first in Europe, into which EnCore assemblies have been installed.
The lead test assemblies were manufactured and delivered under a 2018 cooperation agreement between Westinghouse and ENUSA. Westinghouse supplied uranium dioxide powder and components including the advanced cladding technology, while ENUSA delivered the uranium dioxide pellets, fuel assembly and shipment.
"The insertion of EnCore Fuel at the Doel plant is a significant milestone for our Accident Tolerant Fuel programme," said Tarik Choho, president of Westinghouse EMEA Operating Plant Services. "This installation is part of the successful deployment of EnCore Fuel to the global nuclear energy industry."
The EnCore Fuel programme features a suite of products to provide enhanced accident tolerance as well as improved fuel economics. The first phase of Westinghouse's programme involves the delivery of chromium-coated zirconium cladding that inhibits the zirconium-steam reaction and increases maximum temperature by an additional 300°C. Lead test rods of EnCore fuel using the cladding and loaded with Westinghouse's ADOPT fuel pellets were inserted into unit 2 at Exelon's Byron nuclear power plant in the USA in 2019.
The second phase of the EnCore programme is to feature silicon-carbide cladding, which has an extremely high melting point and minimal reaction with water and steam, and the introduction of more advanced fuel pellet designs such as uranium silicide, uranium nitride or high thermal conductivity uranium dioxide pellets.
EnCore is one of three ATF concepts, alongside offerings from Framatome and Global Nuclear Fuel, to receive development support through the US Department of Energy's Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel programme.
Doel 4 is a 1038 MWe (net) pressurised water reactor which began commercial operation in 1985.