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Fuel Pin Behavior Under the Slow Power Ramp Transients in the CABRI-2 Experiments

Jean Charpenel, Francette Lemoine, Ikken Sato, Dankward Struwe, Werner Pfrang

Nuclear Technology

Volume 130 / Number 3 / June 2000 / Pages 252-271


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Slow ramp-type transient-overpower tests were performed within the framework of the international CABRI-2 experimental program. The implemented power transients of ~1% nominal power/s correspond to a control rod withdrawal-type accident in a liquid-metal-cooled fast breeder reactor (FBR). The analysis of the tests includes the information elements derived from the hodoscope signals, which were assessed quantitatively and supported by destructive and nondestructive posttest examinations. These tests, performed with fuels of various geometries, demonstrated the high margin to failure of such FBR fuel pins within the expected power level before the emergency reactor shutdown. At the same time, these tests performed with high- and low-smear-density industrial pins led to clarification of the influence of pellet design on fuel pin behavior under high overpower condition. With the high-smear-density solid fuel pellet pin of high burnup level, the retained gaseous fission products played an important role in the solid fuel swelling, leading to clad deformation and failure at a maximum heating rate of 81 kWm-1, which is much greater than the end-of-life (EOL) linear rating of the pin. With the low smear-density annular pellet pin, an important fuel swelling takes place, leading to degradation of the fuel thermal conductivity. This effect was detected at the power level around 73 kWm-1, which is also much higher than the EOL value of the pin. Furthermore, the absence of clad deformation, and consequently of failure even at the power level going up to 134.7 kWm-1, confirmed the very high margin to failure. In consequence, it was clarified that gaseous fission products have significant effects on failure threshold as well as on thermal performance during overpower condition, and such effects are significantly dependent on fuel design and power operation conditions.

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