Nuclear fuel rods operate under complex radioactive, thermal, and mechanical conditions. Nowadays, fuel rod codes usually make great simplifications on analyzing the multiphysics behavior of fuel rods. The present study develops a three-dimensional (3D) module within the framework of a general-purpose finite element solver, i.e., abaqus, for modeling the major physics of the fuel rods. A typical fuel rod, subjected to stable operations and transient conditions, is modeled. The results show that the burnup levels have an important influence on the thermomechanical behavior of fuel rods. The swelling of fission products causes a dramatically increasing strain of pellets. The variation of the stress and the radial displacement of the cladding along the axial direction can be reasonably predicted. It is shown that a quick power ramp or a reactivity insertion accident can induce high tensile stress in the outer regime of the pellet and may cause further fragmentation to the pellets. Fission products migration effects and differential thermal expansion become more severe if there are flaws or imperfections on the pellet.

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