Manufacture of Metallic Fuel Pins with Advanced Geometries

Period of Performance: 06/13/2016 - 03/12/2017

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Creare, Inc.
16 Great Hollow Road Array
Hanover, NH 03755
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

New types of nuclear power plants under development that to enable nuclear power to provide a large-scale source of environmentally benign power generation while improving safety and minimizing proliferation risks. For best performance, these reactors will require large numbers of uranium alloy fuel pins made with unique geometries. No method currently exists for producing large numbers of fuel pins in the needed shapes. Statement of How This Problem or Situation Is Being Addressed: Creare proposes to develop an advanced, continuous casting method that uses innovative tooling, instrumentation, and process control technology to produce uranium alloy fuel pins with geometries that are optimized for future nuclear power plants. Use of these fuel pins will reduce cost and improve performance of future reactors. What is to be done in Phase I? This work builds on the basic continuous-casting technology for simple, cylindrical fuel pins that is already under development by Creare. In Phase I we will demonstrate the feasibility of producing advanced-geometry metallic fuel. We will analyze the casting process and adapt an existing proof-of-concept fabrication facility to use the proposed process to produce fuel pins with prototypical advanced shapes from an alloy that simulates metallic fuel alloy. We will develop a process to produce simulated fuel pins characteristic of the desired advanced geometry and inspect the pins to characterize the casting capabilities. Commercial Application and Other Benefits The main commercial use of the technology will be to produce metallic fuel pins with unique geometries for next-generation nuclear power plants. The public benefit will be low-cost electricity that is produced by safe and environmentally benign power plants. The technology we develop for precision control of the continuous casting process will also enable production of a wide range of metallic components for commercial applications. Key Words: Nuclear fuel fabrication, metallic fuel, continuous casting