The fuel cladding is an important barrier to the release of fission products to the environment. Its integrity must be conserved during the in-reactor lifetime and during the spent fuel pool and dry cask storage. The corrosive interaction between the cladding and the water coolant in light water reactors leads to the oxidation of the zirconium-based cladding. A fraction of the hydrogen released due to those corrosive interactions or the radiolysis of the water coolant is picked-up by the fuel cladding. It diffuses inside the cladding driven by the concentration and temperature gradients. Eventually, its concentration can increase beyond a certain limit above which hydrogen precipitates as hydrides. The formation of hydrides can embrittle the cladding and leads to micro-cracks that can compromise the cladding integrity.

At the spacer grids locations, the mixing vanes will create swirl flow and mixing of the coolant leading to a high temperature gradient on the fuel rod cladding. This temperature gradient is a strong driving force for hydrogen to diffuse from high to low temperature locations. Therefore, the hydrogen behavior around the spacer grids with mixing vanes is important to model. In this work, the computational fluid dynamics code START-CCM+ is used to model the effect of the mixing vanes on the temperature profile on the cladding outer surface. It ws coupled with the transport code MPACT and the fuel performance code BISON. The computational model consisted of a 5 × 5 fuel rods subassembly with a guide tube in the central location. The obtained cladding temperature profile on a fuel rod of interest was applied as a boundary condition to BISON to model the hydrogen behavior around the spacer grids in a three-dimensional manner. Three spacer grids were modeled at elevations of 217.9 cm, 270.14 cm and 322.35 cm. The hydrogen behavior at each of those locations is evaluated and compared to assess the importance order of those locations.

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