Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Pebble fuel grains pass performance testing
INL Advanced Test Reactor test site
An earlier post described the start of testing of the multiple-layer-coated fuel grains that form the billiard-ball-sized fuel pebbles in the pebble bed reactor. Idaho National Laboratory used its Advanced Test Reactor to expose these test fuel grains to radiation levels much higher than in an operational PBR, thus simulating years of exposure in a few months. The multiple, coated layers of silicon carbide and ceramic graphite contain the radioactive products of fission. These tested fuel grains have not failed, at the level of 9% burn-up of the uranium within. Tests will continue to see if a 12-14% burnup can be achieved by year-end.