US plant gets go-ahead for high-performance fuel

02 April 2015

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has cleared the Perry nuclear power plant in Ohio to begin using GNF2 high performance fuel.

Inside Perry's core: the unit is undergoing a refuelling and maintenance outage (Image: First Energy)

The NRC has amended FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC)'s operating licence for Perry to include revisions to the safety limit minimum critical power ratio - a measure of heat limits within the reactor core - enabling the unit to use Global Nuclear Fuel's GNF2 fuel design. In a letter dated 27 March, the regulator noted that the amendment would "support the use of GNF2 fuel starting at the next operating cycle".

The 1268 MWe boiling water reactor entered a scheduled refuelling and maintenance outage on 9 March, which will include replacement of 280 of its 748 fuel assemblies using GNF2 fuel. According to Global Nuclear Fuels, the GNF2 design delivers higher energy output whilst cutting overall fuel cycle costs, reducing the total amount of uranium and the average enrichment in fuel reloads.

First Energy spokesperson Jennifer Young told World Nuclear News that the reassessment of operating safety margins is routinely carried out for every new fuel cycle as part of normal practice, regardless of the type of fuel. Adjustments are periodically made based on how the newer and older fuel is distributed in the reactor core. Perry last applied for and received an adjustment in 2011.

"Most reactors of Perry's type in the United States have already moved to this fuel design, so while it is a new fuel for Perry, it is not a new fuel design or technology", Young said.

During the present outage at Perry FENOC is also installing a new large transformer, one of two circuits that provide off-site power to the plant's on-site electrical systems. The new equipment is expected to enhance reliability and ensure a critical power source is available for plant operation.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News