Manufacturing Features and Characteristics of Uranium Dioxide Pellets for Subcritical Assembly Fuel Rods
The influence of technological processes and manufacturing of uranium dioxide fuel pellets for fuel elements for experimental fuel assembly (FA-X) which was designed as an alternative fuel for the nuclear research installation (NRI) "Neutron Source Controlled by Electron Accelerator" were investigated. Unlike standard production processes of UO2 pellets, the special feature fabrication process of this nuclear fuel type is production of uranium dioxide powder with enrichment of 4.4 %wt. of 235U achieved by mixing of two batches of powders with different uranium contents: 0.4 %wt. 235U and 19.7%wt. 235U, as well as ensuring the required tolerance of fuel pellets without the use of machining operations. A set of design and process documentation were developed in the R&D Center at NSC KIPT. Experimental stack of fuel pellets, fuel elements and a pilot fuel assembly FA-X were fabricated and designed to be compatible and interchangeable with VVR-M2 fuel assembly adopted as a standard assembly for the first fuel loading at the "Neutron Source Driven by an Electron Accelerator" FA. As opposition to the variant of VVR-M2 fuel assembly which consisted of three fuel rods of tubular shape with dispersion composition UO2‑Al, FA-X accommodates six fuel rods of pin-type with UO2 pellet which located in the zirconium cladding (E110) as the closest analogue of fuel rods of VVER-1000 power reactor. Inside cladding locate a 500 mm high fuel stack which is secured against displacement by a spacer. In the basic variant of FA-X the fuel pellets are made of UO2 with 235U enrichment near 4.4 %wt.
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