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A Statistical Approach to Predict the Failure Enthalpy and Reliability of Irradiated PWR Fuel Rods During Reactivity-Initiated Accidents

Cheol Nam, Yong-Hwan Jeong, Youn-Ho Jung

Nuclear Technology

Volume 136 / Number 2 / November 2001 / Pages 158-168


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During the last decade, the failure behavior of high-burnup fuel rods under a reactivity-initiated accident (RIA) condition has been a serious concern since fuel rod failures at low enthalpy have been observed. This has resulted in the reassessment of existing licensing criteria and failure-mode study. To address the issue, a statistics-based methodology is suggested to predict failure probability of irradiated fuel rods under an RIA. Based on RIA simulation results in the literature, a failure enthalpy correlation for an irradiated fuel rod is constructed as a function of oxide thickness, fuel burnup, and pulse width. Using the failure enthalpy correlation, a new concept of "equivalent enthalpy" is introduced to reflect the effects of the three primary factors as well as peak fuel enthalpy into a single damage parameter. Moreover, the failure distribution function with equivalent enthalpy is derived, applying a two-parameter Weibull statistical model. Finally, the sensitivity analysis is carried out to estimate the effects of burnup, corrosion, peak fuel enthalpy, pulse width, and cladding materials used.

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