Methodology of material testing for VVER fuel assemblies and fuel rods to support introduction of new fuel at NPPS
The proposed methodology for post-irradiation examination of VVER fuel assemblies (FAs) and fuel rods is to be used for effective engineering support of the introduction of new fuel at NPPs. The application of the proposed methodology allows improving the efficiency of the material testing of irradiated fuel in terms of completeness and reliability of information about the state and behavior of fuel under both normal operating conditions and under design and beyond the design-basis accidents, as well as during the transportation and long-term storage. This methodology also allows diminishing the time to get information required for introduction of new fuel at NPPs as well as reducing its cost.
In order to implement the proposed methodology, it is necessary to develop and put into the material science practice new methods and facilities to conduct examination of irradiated fuel, which are as follows: new non-destructive examination methods for fuel assemblies and fuel rods; loop facilities and capsules to conduct irradiation tests of fuel in research reactors; hot cell test facilities to subject fuel to testing under simulated emergency conditions as well as transport and long-term storage conditions; fuel inspection facilities in the NPP storage pools and research reactor pools.
Nowadays, many of the above-listed methods and NDE facilities have been developed and put into operation. They are as follows: bending stiffness test facility for VVER-1000 FAs, pulse eddy current testing of fuel claddings, measurement of fuel-to-cladding gap, ultrasonic test method for failed fuel rods, test facility intended for simulation of SNF dry storage conditions, test facilities for the VVER-1000 FA inspection and repair etc.
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