The APR1400 nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the UAE are using fuel systems with UO2 fuel and ZIRLO cladding. So far, the fuel systems during normal operation conditions have shown good performance in other NPPs. However, the hydrogen explosion that had occurred during the Fukushima-Daiichi NPP Accident was caused by zirconium-steam reactions at high temperature. Since then, Research & Development (R&D) activities have been extensively performed in many countries for developing new fuel systems. Such new fuel systems are called Accident Tolerant Fuels (ATF) that can tolerate loss of active cooling in the reactor core for a considerably longer time than the conventional UO2/Zircaloy systems. Since only four NPPs will be operated in the UAE, it would not be recommended to develop a new fuel system by themselves. Instead, the UAE would adopt one from candidate ATF concepts developed by other countries. For this purpose, there must be (i) ATF selection methodology and (ii) Emirati experts on ATFs who will be in charge of the ATF adoption process.
This project aims at developing the selection methodology and strategy of an ATF for APR1400 and training Emirati professional manpower on the ATF R&D. To achieve these goals, three tasks will be conducted: (i) Task 1 – Development of ATF selection criteria for APR1400; (ii) Task 2 – Evaluation of high-temperature oxidation behavior of coated ATF cladding materials; (iii) Task 3 – Development of ATF selection methodology for APR1400. All the tasks will be conducted under the collaboration with KAIST and KAERI that have extensive experience on ATFs. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) employees and graduate students at Khalifa University will participate in all the tasks, which will contribute to the capacity building for ATFs in the UAE. By adopting an ATF concept to the NPPs in the UAE, it is expected that the possibility of hydrogen explosion during severe accidents will be eliminated. Also, by widening the safety margin for the operation of the NPPs and increasing coping time during severe accidents, the safety of the NPPs during normal operational conditions will be greatly enhanced.