The United States Department of Energy’s Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) Fuel Development and Qualification Program is irradiating up to seven low enriched uranium (LEU) tri-isotopic (TRISO) particle fuel (in compact form) experiments in the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) located at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). These irradiations and fuel development are being accomplished to support development of the next generation reactors in the United States. The experiments will be irradiated over the next several years to demonstrate and qualify new TRISO coated particle fuel for use in high temperature gas reactors. The goals of the experiments are to provide irradiation performance data to support fuel process development, to qualify fuel for normal operating conditions, to support development and validation of fuel performance and fission product transport models and codes, and to provide irradiated fuel and materials for post irradiation examination (PIE) and safety testing. The experiments, which will each consist of several independent capsules, will be irradiated in an inert sweep gas atmosphere with individual on-line temperature monitoring and control of each capsule. The sweep gas will also have on-line fission product monitoring on its effluent to track performance of the fuel in each individual capsule during irradiation.
The first experiment (designated AGR-1) started irradiation in December 2006 and was completed in November 2009. The second experiment (AGR-2) started irradiation in June 2010 and is currently scheduled to be completed in September 2013. The third and fourth experiments have been combined into a single experiment designated (AGR-3/4), which started its irradiation in December 2011 and is currently scheduled to be completed in April 2014. Since the purpose of this combined experiment is to provide data on fission product migration and retention in the NGNP reactor, the design of this experiment is significantly different from the first two experiments, though the control and monitoring systems are extremely similar. The design of the experiment will be discussed followed by its progress and status to date.