The ability to innovate in the nuclear industry is more critical than ever, as the landscape in which we operate continues to shift more rapidly each day. Today’s utilities require the lowest fuel cycle costs possible, increased operational flexibility, higher burnup and higher enrichment (LEU+) capability to generate more power with fewer bundles, diversity of supply, accident-tolerant products that provide resilience and survivability, in addition to robust and leak-free fuel performance.
The Westinghouse High Energy Fuel Program brings together a comprehensive family of products, technologies and solutions that meet these requirements and position our customers to be successful in providing safe, economical, reliable, clean energy across the world.
Westinghouse’s EnCore® Fuel program is centered on the use of high-performance features that are being developed and deployed on a strategic timeline so utilities can gain safety and cost benefits quickly. We have begun with an improved chromium-coated cladding that inhibits the zirconium-steam reaction and increases maximum temperature by an additional 300°C. This cladding has been applied to lead test rods (LTRs) loaded with our ADOPT® fuel pellets – a mature design that increases density, allowing more uranium for a higher burnup, and has been fueling BWRs in Europe for 10 years. These LTRs were inserted into Exelon’s Byron Unit 2 in the spring 2019. In July 2023, the NRC approved an LAR for reinserting several LTRs for a third cycle of operation to achieve high burnup. This provides the first opportunity to achieve 75 GWd/MTU in a commercial reactor with Westinghouse EnCore ATF technologies.
We are also developing advanced fuel rod materials such as silicon-carbide cladding, which has an extremely high melting point and minimal reaction with water and steam. EnCore Fuel’s long-term portfolio will also include uranium nitride pellets, which offer 40% higher uranium density over UO2 (equivalent to 7% U235 enrichment) and significantly improved thermal properties, with either option translating to higher safety and economic benefits.
AXIOM™ is Westinghouse’s next generation of fuel rod cladding targeting high fuel duties, improved corrosion resistance, lower hydrogen pick-up and lower creep and growth when compared to current Westinghouse products. In December of 2022, Westinghouse received approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to use its AXIOM Fuel Rod Cladding in United States pressurized water reactors (PWRs).
AXIOM Cladding Technical Advantages:
Westinghouse’s PRIME™ advanced fuel features help to improve fuel performance, enhance fuel reliability, enable enhanced fuel cycle economics and provide additional margin at uprated conditions and higher burnup. The package of features includes an optimization of enhancements based on proven Westinghouse fuel reliability and world-class leadership in the design and manufacture of nuclear fuel.
PRIME Key Features:
Westinghouse developed Advanced Doped Pellet Technology (ADOPT®) Fuel to improve fuel cycle economics and enhance the accident tolerance of conventional uranium dioxide (UO2) fuel pellets.
ADOPT Fuel is a near-term fuel product within Westinghouse’s EnCore® Fuel program. In November of 2022, Westinghouse received approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to use its ADOPT Fuel in United States pressurized water reactors (PWRs).
As a result of ADOPT Fuel’s enlarged grain size and increased density, key benefits include: