US BWR to receive Framatome accident tolerant fuel

25 March 2021

Framatome is to supply PROtect enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF) technology and ATRIUM 11 fuel for the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant in Monticello, Minnesota under a contract signed with Xcel Energy. This will be the first delivery of prototype EATF rods under the PROtect programme to a boiling water reactor (BWR), Framatome says.

Monticello (Image: Xcel Energy)

PROtect EATF is more tolerant to loss of active cooling in the reactor core for longer periods because its reduced oxidation behaviour increases "coping time", the company said. The fuel also offers improved performance during normal operations, allowing operators greater flexibility and efficiency. The US Department of Energy has since 2012 supported the development of ATF concepts, including Framatome's, through its EATF programme.

The PROtect EATF will be loaded into the reactor during this year's refuelling outage and delivery of reloads of ATRIUM 11 advanced BWR nuclear fuel will start in the spring of 2023.

The ATRIUM-11 design uses an 11x11 rod array and chromia-enhanced uranium oxide pellets. This allows operators to run plants with more flexibility in response to fluctuating power demands while improving uranium utilisation and plant efficiency, resulting in lower costs for utilities, Framatome said.

The first lead fuel assemblies of ATRIUM 11 were inserted into plants in Europe in 2012 and in the USA in 2015, and the first reloads using the fuel were delivered and inserted in Europe in 2018 and in the USA in 2020.

Monticello, a 691 MWe (gross) single-unit BWR plant that began commercial operation in 1971 is the eighth US plant to transition to ATRIUM-11.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News