The world’s first installed accident tolerant fuel (ATF) lead test rods have successfully completed a 24-month fuel cycle at the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant marking a significant milestone in the continued development of advanced fuel. Resulting data from this achievement will inform the advancement of a groundbreaking technology designed to increase plant performance and build upon an already robust margin of plant safety.
The unfueled IronClad lead test rods and fueled ARMOR-coated zirconium cladding test rods were developed by GNF with support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Accident Tolerant Fuel program.
During a planned maintenance and refueling outage, operators transferred a sampling of the lead test rods from Plant Hatch Unit 1 to the spent fuel pool and have completed an initial inspection of the fuel in comparison to standard zirconium rods.
“Our initial inspections have confirmed that the fuel performed as expected and we anticipate leveraging this success and data with our fuel vendors into the continued development of this innovative technology,” said John Williams, Southern Nuclear fuels and analysis director. “We will continue to pursue solutions like advanced fuel that enhance the performance and reliability of our operating plants and ensure the safety and health of our customers and our employees.”
Oak Ridge National Laboratory will conduct further evaluations of the lead test rods’ material and coating properties. The data obtained from this analysis will be used by Southern Nuclear and fuel vendor Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) to guide future development of ATF technologies and provide information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing review process. The industry is pursuing the licensing and full commercial deployment of ATF by the mid-2020s.
Based on Southern Company.