In order to support the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Program 2018 deployment schedule, the Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) Fuel Development and Qualification Program must reduce the AGR fuel irradiation testing time in the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) from approximately 2 1/2 calendar years to 1 1/2 calendar years. The AGR fuel irradiation testing requirements are: (a) burn-up of at least 14% FIMA; (b) Fast neutron fluence (E > 0.18 MeV) – maximum < 5.1 × 1025 n/m2; (c) limit of fission power density is 350 W/cc; and (d) irradiation time < 1 1/2 calendar years. The accelerated testing could be accomplished by utilizing the ATR North East flux trap (NEFT) position, which can provide more control of the thermal neutron flux rate than the ATR B-10 position currently being used for the AGR-1 fuel testing, which is regulated to achieve the fuel temperature and burn-up rate requirements. In addition, the Fast (E > 1.0 MeV) to Thermal (E < 0.625 eV) neutron flux ratio (F/T) for the NEFT is much harder (higher) than the F/T ratio for the B-10 position. Thus, an appropriate configuration of Beryllium (Be) and water will need to be determined in order to soften (lower) the F/T ratio to the desired value. The proposed AGR 7-position fuel test configuration in the NEFT will utilize a graphite holder consisting of six fuel specimen positions arranged around the perimeter of the graphite holder with a seventh fuel specimen position in the center of the holder. To soften the neutron spectrum in the fuel compacts, the water volume in the outer water annulus can be increased. To reduce the compact power density, a hafnium filter could be incorporated around the graphite holder. After several trials, a hafnium filter with a thickness of 0.008 inches appeared to adequately reduce the power density to achieve the fuel testing requirements. It was also determined that the chosen beryllium-tube and water annulus configuration would adequately soften the neutron spectrum to achieve the fuel testing requirement. This neutronics study is based upon typical ATR cycle operation of 50 effective full power days (EFPD) per cycle for seven proposed irradiation cycles, and a NE lobe power of the 14 MW. The MCWO-calculated fuel compact power density, burnup (% FIMA), and fast neutron fluence (E > 0.18 MeV) results indicate that the average fuel compact burnup and fast neutron fluence reach 14.79% FIMA and 4.16 × 1025 n/m2, respectively. The fuel compact peak burnup reached 16.68% FIMA with corresponding fast neutron fluence for that fuel compact of 5.06 × 1025 n/m2, which satisfied the fuel testing requirements. It is therefore concluded that accelerating the AGR fuel testing using the proposed AGR 7-position fuel test configuration in the NEFT is very feasible.

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