Neutronic Analysis of SiC/SiC Sandwich Cladding Design in APR-1400 under Normal Operation Conditions

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    Our aim is to study the neutronic behaviour of potential accident-tolerant fuel (ATF) claddings in a pressurised water reactor under normal operations. This work compares ATF silicon carbide composite (SiC/SiC) cladding to conventional ZIRLOTM cladding in APR-1400. Additionally, a “sandwich” cladding design developed by the CEA is used for SiC/SiC. The design structure includes a liner in between two layers of the composite to ensure leak tightness. The two proposed liners are Niobium (Nb) and Tantalum (Ta). Serpent 2, a Monte Carlo reactor physics lattice code, is employed to model both cladding materials in APR-1400 at three different levels: pin cell, fuel assembly, and core. The criticality, neutron spectrum, actinide inventory, and power distribution as a function of burnup are investigated. The simulations show that SiC/SiC with the Nb liner displays a far superior performance than the Ta liner across all examined characteristics. Ta leads to a harder neutron spectrum and increased Pu-239 content throughout the cycle, while Nb presents negligible effects. In fact, SiC/SiC with the Nb liner performs very similarly to ZIRLOTM at all model levels. The results indicate that, in terms of neutronics, the adoption of the SiC/SiC composite would entail little to no changes to current APR-1400 operations.

    Original languageBritish English
    Article number5204
    Issue number14
    StatePublished - Jul 2022


    • accident-tolerant fuels
    • light water reactor
    • neutronics
    • nuclear fuel
    • silicon carbide


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