Fylde nuclear factory owner reveals new fuel design
The nuclear specialist which owns the Springfields fuel factory at Salwick has unveiled a new type of fuel which it says is designed to cope better with extreme accident conditions.
Westinghouse Electric Company has launched its accident tolerant EnCore Fuel which is designed for use in Light Water Reactors.
Although the Fylde factory produces mainly fuel for Advanced Gas Cooled reactors, it does some work for LWT systems and the new design could have implications for the 1,000 workers in the future.
EnCore Fuel is designed to offer increased safety, greater uranium efficiency and estimated economic benefits up to hundreds of millions of dollars to Westinghouse’s nuclear fuel customers.
It is made from coated cladding containing uranium silicide pellets. These are said to have higher density than other accident tolerant fuels and higher thermal conductivity.
They are also said to be better wear resistant and last longer.
The silicon carbide cladding is said to have a melting point of 2,800C and minimal reaction with water to increase safety. Michele DeWitt, senior vice president, Nuclear Fuel said: “We are on track to manufacture EnCore Fuel lead test rods as early as 2018, with lead test assembly insertion planned starting in 2022.”
Simon Marshall, Managing Director UK Fuel Operations. said in response: “The launch of Westinghouse’s accident tolerant fuel (ATF) is an exciting opportunity for the UK to participate in this ground-breaking nuclear fuel technology. We are currently working in partnership with the National Nuclear Laboratory to evaluate the technical challenges and develop a production route for the fuel at Springfields.”