Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials

Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Fuel Cycles

Coated Particle Fuel Technologies

To improve the capacity of Member States for developing innovative fuel cycle technologies, the IAEA both develops handbooks and documents for training and education purposes and keeps the information on coated particle fuel technology for the new generation of scientists and engineers up-to-date. For example:

  • A document on 'HTGR Fuel and Fuel Cycle — Current Issues and Future Perspectives' is being developed. The document focuses on the evolution of HTGRs for high temperature applications, manufacturing processes of TRISO coated fuel particles with emphasis on recent developments in coating technology, challenges involved in quality control methods for coated particles, fuel performance assessment, uses of plutonium and minor actinides and possible disposal of irradiated fuels. The document will also provide a summary of recent developments in the manufacturing of multi-layer coated particle, advanced techniques for the characterization of particles by non-destructive methods, irradiation performances of fuel particle.

  • As Member States of the IAEA have pursued activities focused on developing high temperature gas cooled reactors (HTGRs) for building innovative nuclear fuel cycles and reactor systems for high temperature applications (such as hydrogen production, apart from electricity generation), a publication on High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor Fuels and Materials (IAEA TECDOC-1645) was published. It documents the knowledge and experience in the development of HTGRs gained over fifty years and will serve as a basis for further development of fuels and reactor systems.

For further information, please contact the NEFW Contact Point.


Background

Many Member States are engaged in developing high temperature gas cooled reactors (HTGRs) for process heat, hydrogen production and electricity generation. Research programs are being pursued in these Member States related to fuel development focussing on advanced particle fuel design, fabrication methods, fuel characterization, irradiation performance, accident simulation testing and performance modelling to predict the behaviour of HTGR fuel under normal and off-normal operating conditions.

Generation IV International Forum has also identified very high temperature reactor (VHTR) as one of the reactors for deployment in the near future. High temperatures and passive safety are some of the key features of these reactors. These reactors are likely to have high enough outlet temperature suitable for ‘nuclear hydrogen’ production facility and at the same time may also be used for electricity generations as a by-product. Future HTGR perspectives are attractive as the HTGR has ceramic core with coated particles and graphite and use of inert helium as coolant in a small and medium-sized reactor avoids the core melt in comparison to water cooled reactors where the interaction between coolant and cladding can lead to disastrous results. Additionally, the robust core of HTGR allows an easy increase in coolant exit temperatures to 850°C in a direct cycle gas turbine system for efficient power generation and to 950°C for process heat applications including hydrogen generation.

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