High-Burnup Nuclear Fuel Rods Delivered for Examination After Having Completed Three Cycles of Commercial Operation

High-burnup fuel rods, manufactured by GE Vernova’s Nuclear Fuel business, Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), have been delivered to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for examination after commercial operation. The rods completed three full cycles of operation at a U.S. nuclear power plant.

“This shipment of these rods is another milestone in the drive to develop the next generation of even safer and more reliable fuel,” said Mike Chilton, executive vice president with GNF. “We are proud to be part of this collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy to benefit the entire industry.”

“This fuel shipment to Oak Ridge National Laboratory is an important step in GNF’s efforts to commercialize their high-burnup fuel,” said Frank Goldner, a nuclear engineer within DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. “High-burnup fuels are expected to enhance the performance of today’s reactors and will help us on our path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”

The fuel rods were manufactured at GNF’s Wilmington, North Carolina, facility (Figure 1). Evaluation of the rods will help provide GNF and DOE with valuable information about high-burnup fuel, a key goal of DOE’s Accident Tolerant Fuel (ATF) program.

1. GE Vernova’s facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. Courtesy: GE Vernova

Higher-burnup fuel is expected to further enhance nuclear safety by enabling fuel to remain in the reactor core for longer periods of time before it is removed for long-term storage. It is anticipated that fewer bundles will support improved fuel cycle economics and power uprates. The post-irradiation examinations performed by ORNL support GNF’s development, engineering, and licensing efforts to ensure the continued safe and reliable performance of fuel under expanded operating conditions.

GE Vernova’s Nuclear energy business, through its global alliance with Hitachi, is a provider of nuclear fuel bundles, services, and advanced nuclear reactor designs. Technologies include boiling water reactors and small modular reactors, such as the BWRX-300, which the company says is “one of the simplest, yet most innovative boiling water reactor designs.” GNF, meanwhile, is a leading supplier of boiling water reactor fuel and fuel-related engineering services. GNF is a GE Vernova-led joint venture with Hitachi Ltd. It operates primarily through Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas LLC in Wilmington, and Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co. Ltd. in Kurihama, Japan.

POWER edited this content, which was contributed by the communications department of GE Vernova’s Nuclear Power business.

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