Extending the fuel discharge burnup level, e.g., from the current limit of rod averaged discharge burnup limit of 62 GWD/MT to a proposed new limit of 75 GWD/MT, can provide significant economic benefits to the current fleet of operating light water reactors (LWRs). It allows for longer operating cycles and improved resource utilization. The major economic gain of longer operating cycles is attributable to the increased capacity factor resulting from decreased refueling time as a fraction of total operating time, as well as fewer assemblies to be discharged for a given amount of energy produced. The main licensing challenges for higher burnup fuel are to ensure fuel rod safety under design basis accident conditions, especially under large-break loss-of-coolant accident (LBLOCA) and reactivity insertion accident (RIA). In this work, two-year cycle core design for a typical 4-loop pressurized water reactor (PWR) is performed with enrichment increased up to 6% and burnup extended to 75 GWD/MT. The fuel rod burst potential evaluations under large-break loss-of-coolant accident (LBLOCA) conditions are subsequently performed using the multi-physics best estimate plus uncertainty analysis framework LOTUS (LOCA Toolkit for the U.S. LWRs) and the preliminary results are presented.

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