Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials

Management of Spent Fuel from Power Reactors

Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on Management Of Severely Damaged Spent Fuel And Corium (CRP-T13015)

The accident at Fukushima Daiichi (March 2011) resulted in severe damage and reported fuel core meltdown of three of the nuclear power plants on the reactor site. A fourth reactor, although shutdown, suffered severe damage to its structure from a hydrogen explosion and resulted in plant and roofing materials being deposited in the fuel storage pool. The fuel in this pool may also have been damaged due to loss of cooling water and the introduction of seawater as a replacement. In terms of multiple failures, an accident of this scale has not been experienced previously resulting in an unprecedented remediation challenge.

The Fukushima ‘Mid-and-Long-Term Roadmap” indicates complete removal of the spent fuel from the storage pools at the Fukushima reactors within 10 years and in the longer term retrieval of the fuel debris, corium and melted core concrete interaction products. The international community now has the opportunity to contribute to the achievement of these targets.

As a means of expanding the existing knowledge base on and to identify optimal approaches for managing severely damaged spent fuel and corium. Research and development proposals related to in situ characterization and monitoring, characterization, computer modelling applied to all physical and chemical phenomena from retrieval through to disposal, sampling and handling, methods to mitigate adverse changes in the long-term behaviour of packaged material, packaging, materials accountancy, conditioning for interim storage and processing (including drying, reprocessing, separation, vitrification) for disposal, chemical and physical behaviour, and source term release are sort.

In the context of this CRP severely damaged spent fuel covers: Material from post irradiation examination; fuel debris, fuel damaged during fuel handling operations; fuel damaged as a result of loss of cooling; corium; melted core concrete interaction products (MCCI).

This is a new CRP open for research proposals.

Specific Research Objectives:

Specific research objectives are to develop and assess the following:

  • Techniques for the in situ characterization and monitoring of severely damaged spent fuel;
  • Characterisation of severely damaged spent fuel;
  • Computer modelling applied to all physical and chemical phenomena for all stages from retrieval through to disposal;
  • Tools and techniques for the sampling and handling of severely damaged spent fuel;
  • Methods to mitigate adverse changes in the long-term behaviour of severely damaged spent fuel and packaged material (for example radiolysis, chemical and physical properties);
  • Techniques for packaging materials/fuel debris;
  • Techniques for packaging materials/fuel debris;
  • Tools and techniques for materials accountancy;
  • Tools and techniques for conditioning severely damaged spent fuel for interim storage, and processing (including drying of fuel debris/materials, reprocessing, separation, vitrification) for disposal;
  • Chemical and physical behaviour of severely damaged spent fuel during the transfer from one stage to the next stage (to support safety case development);
  • Source term release during interim storage, transfer to next stage and disposal.

The corresponding specific activities are listed in the CRP information sheet. For further information on the CRP, please contact the NEFW Contact Point.

For further information on CRPs, please see Coordinated Research Activites web pages. To apply for a CRP, please use the forms here.

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