Annular fuel with internal flow is proposed to allow higher power density in pressurized water reactors. The structural behavior issues arising from the higher flow rate required to cool the fuel are assessed here, including buckling, vibrations, and potential wear problems. Five flow-induced vibration mechanisms are addressed: buckling instability, vortex-induced vibration, acoustic resonance, fluid-elastic instability, and turbulence-induced vibration. The structural behavior of the 17 × 17 traditional solid fuel array is compared with that of two types of annular fuels, a 15 × 15 array, and a 13 × 13 array.
It is seen that the annular fuels are superior to the reference fuel in avoiding vibration-induced damage, even at a 50% increase in flow velocity above today's reactors. The higher resistance to vibration is mainly due to their relatively larger cross section area making them more rigid. The 13 × 13 annular fuel shows better structural performance than the 15 × 15 one due to its higher rigidity. Analysis of acoustic resonance of the inner channel cladding with pump blade passing frequencies showed that the acoustic frequencies are within 120% of the pulsation frequency. The annular fuel exhibits reduced impact, sliding, and fretting wear than the solid fuel, even at 150% flow rate of today's reactors.