Korean nuclear fuel assembly test facility opens

28 February 2020

KEPCO Nuclear Fuel (KNF) has announced the commissioning of a nuclear fuel assembly characterisation test facility. The South Korean company has previously relied on overseas organisations to verify its fuel assembly designs.

The new test facility for fuel assembly characterisation (Image: KNF)

KNF said the Test Facility of Fuel Assemblies (TOFAS) can evaluate the mechanical characteristics of fuel by conducting shock, bending and vibration tests on fuel assemblies (including underwater vibration tests). The facility will be used for developing simulation models, producing data linked to verification and seismic analysis.

In the past, fuel assemblies designed and developed by KNF have been characterised by overseas organisations. However, the company said there were concerns over details of its intellectual property being leaked. With the new TOFAS test facility, KNF will be able to carry out its own independent verifications of its fuel designs.

In particular, the test facility will be used to develop the latest seismic analysis technology related to the enhancement of nuclear seismic safety, in line with the strengthening of domestic and foreign requirements for earthquake safety following the March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi.

"Our desire and efforts for independent verification of nuclear fuel has led to the establishment of the final assembly characterisation test facility, which can create future growth engines," said KNF President Sang-bong Jeong.

KNF manufactures and supplies nuclear fuels needed for pressurised water reactors (PWRs) and pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). The company has been fabricating PWR fuel since 1989 and PHWR fuel since 1998. Its manufacturing capacity enables it to meet the fuel requirements of Korea's entire fleet of reactors. KNF has also been supplying fuel assemblies since 2017 to the four Korean-supplied APR1400 reactors under construction at the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News