On the search for a safer nuclear fuel: CIEMAT’s approach and recent accomplishments

Safety of nuclear fuels is one of the CIEMAT’s research areas within the nuclear fission domain. The approach adopted focuses on developing methodologies for assessing fuel rod integrity. The final aim is to provide an accurate description of its thermal and mechanical properties as well as its response to potential and/or postulated threats. The scope is broad: traditional and Advanced Technology Fuels (ATFs); water-cooled and innovative systems fuels; in-reactor and under dry storage conditions; and, most importantly, in nominal and off-nominal circumstances. Based on credited analytical tools, like FRAPCON/FRAPTRAN, the research activities group around three main axes: verification and validation; new and enhancing modeling; beyond-design extension of the analytical tools.

The present paper introduces the research approach and illustrates some recent accomplishments, to end up with a snapshot of methodologies developed based on the sound use of FRAPCON and FRAPTRAN. In the near term, alternative approaches, like multi-scaling and 3D modeling, are to be explored to strengthen further CIEMAT’s approach to the search for an even safer fuel.

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