ATLANTIC: Accident ToLerANT fuels In reCycling

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Chemical and Process Engineering

Abstract

ATLANTIC is a broad ranging, multi-discipline programme that will focus on the very real challenge facing the UK and worldwide nuclear industry; that of how to implement accident tolerant fuels into our existing reactor fleets.
To deliver this programme we are building on a close knit community of expertise that was created in EPSRC's PACIFIC programme and we have brought together a team of over 20 experts from 12 leading universities in the field of nuclear fission.
Our team has already established close collaborative links with EU FP7 programmes such as SACSESS and ASGARD; strengthening the breadth and depth of expertise and allowing a continuing presence on the H2020 programme GENIORS. The UK has started on NIRAB R&D programmes in fuels and recycle; which look at the future of nuclear fission for the UK. Four of the Universities contributing to these programmes are part of the ATLANTIC team.
ATLANTIC will create a foundation for implementing developmental work on ATF, but will also promote fundamental science on fuel behaviour, manufacture, separations and process kinetics.
The programme is built around five interconnected work packages focussing on the scientific and engineering challenges, with two supporting work packages that provide programme governance and create collaborative links.
Work package 1: "fuel - separations interface" will answer a number of research questions concerning the balance between recyclability and accident tolerance, particular knowledge gaps being: (1) What are the mechanisms of oxidation of ATFs under a range of conditions encountered throughout the fuel cycle but especially headend; and (2) how do the products of dissolution impact on advanced aqueous separations processes in development such as the Advanced PUREX, i-SANEX and GANEX processes. WP1 is led by Prof. Colin Boxall (Lancaster).
Work package 2: "effects of contaminants on separations" will target the GANEX and iSANEX process, investigating the effects of contaminants on speciation, e.g. Cr3+ and Np redox. WP2 is led by Prof. Laurence (Reading).
Work package 3: "investigation and optimisation of accident tolerant fuel materials" focuses on the optimisation and manufacture of accident tolerant fuel materials, and is broken down into three sub-packages: fabrication of ceramic fuels in pelletised form (U3Si2 and UN); materials characterisation and performance under lab conditions; and the effects of radiation damage on their properties and how this may modify in-reactor behaviour. WP3 is led by Prof. Karl Whittle (Liverpool).
Work package 4: "fuel behaviour, non-stoichiometry and the fuel-water interface" will build an understanding of the how these fuels react in aqueous environments in the event of pin rupture during operation and/or subsequently during long-term storage and disposal. WP4 is led by Dr. Ian Farnan (Cambridge).
Work package 5: "integrated management of accident tolerant fuels" will develop integrated separation technologies, by combining novel liquid-liquid intensified reactors and process control, which can be used in the recycling and reprocessing of metals and the production of nuclear fuel. WP5 is led by Prof. Panagiota Angeli (UCL).
Work package 6: "networking and collaboration" will provide a focal point for dissemination of the research results and to reach out to international organisations where complimentary activities can be carried out through collaboration. WP6 is led by Dr Clint Sharrad (Manchester).
Work package 7: " programme governance" will provide the necessary support to the team to ensure that the links between the work packages are effective by providing overview and advice from external experts and regular contact between team members. WP7 is led by the two principle investigators for the programme, Profs. Bruce Hanson (Leeds) and Tim Abram (Manchester).

Planned Impact

The main impact of Atlantic will be to create a greater understanding of accident tolerant fuels and cladding in relation to their manufacture, performance, handling and treatment. This body of knowledge will assist UK regulatory bodies in their understanding of the additional protection that AFTCs offer compared to current fuel and cladding technologies, smoothing the licencing process for future use in UK reactors and accelerating the switch over. The knowledge will inform UK Government strategy on future fuel cycle options. Many of the Atlantic team have had and are linked to NIRAB and will be able to feed into decisions on future government led research programmes. Prof. Robin Grimes is the Chief Scientific Officer for FCO and leads on nuclear issues across other departments, so is able to act as a direct conduit into UK Government thinking on policies. In addition, a number of the universities in the team are working with NNL on phase 1 of the BEIS funded programmes on fuels and recycle. The work on ATFC delivered in Atlantic will directly complement these national programmes and allow a better and more informed decision on the scope of future phases. Finally, the knowledge will inform industry itself on the effectiveness of ATFC in UK reactors. Our links to key industry providers such as Westinghouse (Prof. Tim Abram sits as the Westinghouse Chair in Nuclear Fuel Technology) means we will be able to provide clear and direct advice on manufacture, performance and treatment, to allow them to make more informed business decisions.
A secondary, but equally important impact of Atlantic will be to crystallise and focus UK academic effort into a targeted programme. This will provide for more effective collaboration within the UK university network and between UK universities and overseas research organisations that have similar missions. Atlantic will be a collaborative and highly expert community to nurture the careers and skills of a group of new researchers, for the benefit of all the nuclear fission community; whether academic or industrial. Atlantic will create a focal point to for a host of new collaborations that strengthen and deepen the research base across a wide range of nuclear fission topics. A number of research proposals are planned for submission to compliment Atlantic and create a wider family of researchers. Atlantic will provide, through its annual seminar, a platform for all of these researchers to share knowledge, provide assistance and collaborate.
Thirdly, Atlantic will create a group of world class researchers that can act as a team to promote and enhance UK collaborations internationally. Each of the researchers will be empowered to act as an ambassador for the UK nuclear fission community through the support of a critical mass of experts which is of equal to the other programmes around the world. We have support from the main US DoE laboratories tasked with working on fuels and separations (Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory) that the Atlantic team will be welcomed into the US to discuss future collaborative opportunities. We have support from the key EU H2020 programmes on separations (Geniors) that similar activities will be planned.
Finally, Atlantic will deliver cutting edge research across a wide range of subjects of interest to all members of the internationally fission community.
* Fuel manufacture
* Fuel behaviour
* Spent fuel treatment
* Actinide separations
* Real time process control
* Innovative technologies
Whether through the multiple links outside of the team, or the close and effective collaboration within the team, Atlantic will create an impact far reaching and greater than the core programme.

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