Achievable power uprates in pressurized water reactors using uranium nitride fuel
Author(s)Giudicelli, Guillaume Louis
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
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This work aims at investigating the potential benefits of nitride fuel use in pressurized water reactors. The AP1000 is chosen as the reference power plant. Both oxide and nitride fuel are considered and compared using a steady state thermal hydraulics and mechanics parametric optimization study to achieve a maximal core power. A subsequent neutronics study determined the achievable energy extracted per fuel mass (burnup) and sets the core power that allows for an 18-months fuel cycle length. The impact of the change in the core operating temperature on the steam cycle efficiency is considered in order to provide a final evaluation of the electric power uprate. The steady state limits considered are pressure drop, minimum departure from nucleate boiling ratio, fretting and sliding wear and fuel average and centerline temperatures. These limits were set by the reference design's performance. Two strategies were used to raise the core power while remaining within specified limits: increasing the core mass flow rate and decreasing the core inlet temperature. These two strategies were implemented in a simplified MATLAB tool using correlations and a MATLAB-VIPRE (subchannel simulation tool) interface to better model cross-flows. Designs with smaller pins but with similar pitch-todiameter ratios compared to the reference design were found to be optimal with regards to these performances for both strategies. Fretting wear was found to be the limiting constraint for these designs for the first strategy, and additional spacer grids can be introduced to reduce fretting wear and to allow a further power increase. MDNBR was found to be the limiting constraint for these designs in the second strategy. The fuel temperature was not limiting for these designs and both oxide and nitride fuel can be utilized with the same uprates. Both tools provided similar results: smaller fuel pins with similar pitch over diameter ratios allow for better performances than the nominal design in the aforementioned criteria. The most promising strategy proved to be decreasing the core inlet temperature. With this strategy, the possible uprate is 16%, or 550 MWth, in both tools. Such an uprate requires an additional steam generator, and when lowering the core inlet temperature the efficiency of the steam cycle is lowered by 1% as we also need to lower the steam generator saturation pressure. This will require a larger high-pressure turbine. The optimized nitride-fueled design was compared with the oxide-fueled nominal core in terms of neutronics performances. I showed that the new design can reach an 18 month cycle length, at an uprated power, with a 4.3% enrichment and a 60 assembly feed using uranium nitride, compared with a 4.6% enrichment and a 68 assembly feed for the nominal design at the nominal power. With a higher enrichment and a higher feed, a two-year cycle length can be reached even with the uprate. The moderator temperature coefficient, the shutdown margin and the power coefficient of both designs satisfied licensing requirements. A 5% increase in fuel cycle costs was noted with the nitride optimized core, minor compared to the revenue of a 150 MWe uprate. Transient performances, and more extensive fuel performance studies are left for future studies.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, 2017.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 85-88).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nuclear Science and Engineering.