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Multi-Dimensional Simulation of LWR Fuel Behavior in the BISON Fuel Performance Code


Nuclear fuel operates in an extreme environment that induces complex multiphysics phenomena occurring over distances ranging from inter-atomic spacing to meters, and times scales ranging from microseconds to years. To simulate this behavior requires a wide variety of material models that are often complex and nonlinear. The recently developed BISON code represents a powerful fuel performance simulation tool based on its material and physical behavior capabilities, finite-element versatility of spatial representation, and use of parallel computing. The code can operate in full three dimensional (3D) mode, as well as in reduced two dimensional (2D) modes, e.g., axisymmetric radial-axial (R-Z) or plane radial-circumferential (R-θ), to suit the application and to allow treatment of global and local effects. A BISON case study was used to illustrate analysis of Pellet Clad Mechanical Interaction failures from manufacturing defects using combined 2D and 3D analyses. The analysis involved commercial fuel rods and demonstrated successful computation of metrics of interest to fuel failures, including cladding peak hoop stress and strain energy density. In comparison with a failure threshold derived from power ramp tests, results corroborate industry analyses of the root cause of the pellet-clad interaction failures and illustrate the importance of modeling 3D local effects around fuel pellet defects, which can produce complex effects including cold spots in the cladding, stress concentrations, and hot spots in the fuel that can lead to enhanced cladding degradation such as hydriding, oxidation, CRUD formation, and stress corrosion cracking.

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This research was supported by the DOE Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) and Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS) programs. The manuscript has been authored by a contractor of the U.S. Government under Contract Numbers DE-AC05-00OR22725 and DE-AC07-05ID14517. Accordingly, the U.S. Government retains a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to publish or reproduce the published form of this contribution, or allow others to do so, for U.S. Government purposes.

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Correspondence to R. L. Williamson.

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Williamson, R.L., Capps, N.A., Liu, W. et al. Multi-Dimensional Simulation of LWR Fuel Behavior in the BISON Fuel Performance Code. JOM 68, 2930–2937 (2016).

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  • Strain Energy Density
  • Hoop Stress
  • Fuel Pellet
  • Fuel Performance
  • Irradiation Creep