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The NRC frequently interacts with international counterparts through Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) working groups – most notably the Working Group on Fuel Safety – and through international cooperative research programs.
The NRC has received valuable data on ATF and higher burnup fuel behavior from several international programs and partners, including the following:
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA)-supported Studsvik Cladding Integrity Project (SCIP), led by Studsvik in Sweden, has provided data on higher burnup fuel and cladding performance during a simulated loss-of-coolant accident. This includes data on fuel fragmentation, relocation, and dispersal phenomena that have been observed in higher burnup fuel.
- The QUENCH program, led by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, has provided data on iron-chromium-aluminum (FeCrAl) alloy cladding performance during a simulated LOCA.
- The OECD/NEA QUENCH-ATF joint project at KIT has performed a test on chromium-coated zirconium alloy cladding performance during a simulated LOCA and will perform a test on the same material under severe accident conditions in 2023.
- The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has provided data on doped fuel performance during a reactivity-initiated accident conducted in their Nuclear Safety Research Reactor.
NRC continues to participate in international working groups and cooperative research programs to remain informed of relevant policy and technical issues with accident tolerant fuel. This includes the following activities:
- NRC continues to participate in SCIP and QUENCH and to collaborate with JAEA, as mentioned above.
- NRC participates in the OECD/NEA Cabri International Project (CIP), led by the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear (IRSN) in France, to study the behavior of nuclear fuel and cladding during reactivity-initiated accidents. CIP includes tests on higher burnup and doped fuel.
- NRC participates in the Second Framework for Irradiation Experiments (FIDES-II), which includes three joint experimental projects related to ATF and higher burnup fuel behavior under normal operating and accident conditions: Power to Melt and Maneuverability (P2M), In-pile Creep Studies of ATF Cladding (INCA), and High Burnup Experiments in Reactivity Initiated Accidents (HERA).
- NRC staff attend the Top Fuel conference, at which vendors, universities, national laboratories, and international organizations present their work on nuclear fuel research and development. Recently, a significant percentage of papers at Top Fuel have been related to ATF and higher burnup fuel performance. The TopFuel 2022 conference was held in Raleigh, NC.