In 2006, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) challenged the U.S. commercial nuclear industry to eradicate fuel leakage by 2010. Although sustained leak-free performance has yet to be realized, Westinghouse, among other fuel providers, has diligently worked to achieve a significant increase in fuel reliability and leak-free fuel performance in the U.S. and globally.
So far, these efforts have been paying off. Since 2007, leak-free plant performance for reactors using Westinghouse-supplied fuel has been steadily increasing and even achieved 100 percent leak-free performance for a period of time. Globally, Westinghouse leads the industry in leak-free fuel reliability. We’ve worked hard to achieve this through robust fuel designs and a fuel reliability improvement process that we developed and implemented to drive continuous improvement in fuel hardware reliability.
Westinghouse has obtained an improved understanding of both leaking and non-leaking fuel performance through poolside field examinations, hot cell exams, and modeling of fuel that has operated under a wide range of plant conditions. This in-depth understanding has allowed us to determine specific corrective actions and strengthen our product development and design review processes. Additionally, we apply advanced test protocols, the rigorous use of problem identification and resolution processes and systematic use of human performance principles – each contribute to our advancements in fuel design and reliability.
This work is complemented by our fuel reliability improvement process, which considers trending and critical analysis of operations’ feedback from numerous sources to identify areas of improvement. With fuel manufacturing plants in the U.S., Europe and Japan, we can leverage operating and manufacturing experience from across the globe to rapidly identify and implement preventative and/or corrective measures. We track those fuel reliability improvement projects that are approved through completion, report results through key performance indicators and regularly monitor progress.
Operating cores with leak-free fuel are better for everyone in the industry and for the industry’s goal to provide affordable, clean electricity to consumers. Leak-free fuel reduces radiation exposure to workers, reduces operating costs of the plants and promotes acceptance of nuclear energy by the general public.
To learn more about how fuel performance affects the industry and how Westinghouse is striving to perfect fuel performance, read our team’s feature article
published in Nuclear Power International Magazine.
Vice President, Global Fuel Engineering and Product Management
Westinghouse Electric Company