New accident-tolerant nuclear reactor fuel poised to offer significant safety benefits
General Atomics (GA) is proud to partner with Westinghouse Electric Company on a new accident-tolerant nuclear reactor fuel, known as EnCore™ Fuel, which is designed to make current nuclear reactors even safer while also providing economic benefits to nuclear utilities and their consumers.
GA is the industry partner with Westinghouse on the EnCore™ product, providing the ceramic matrix composite cladding that replaces the current metal cladding. The new cladding has an engineered construction that uses silicon carbide (SiC) material reinforced with flexible SiC fiber in much the same way that steel rebar reinforces concrete. This creates an extremely hard and durable material that can withstand the harshest reactor conditions, creating the “accident tolerant” nature of the new fuel rods.Electric grids are evolving rapidly, disrupted by regulatory changes, distributed generation, renewable portfolio standards, and evolving technology. Energy storage is uniquely positioned at the heart of all of this change. Download Greensmith Energy's White Paper to learn more about improving economics and demystifying energy storage systems.
The ceramic silicon carbide cladding allows the fuel rods to withstand temperatures of over 3000˚F, more than twice what can be sustained by metal cladding used in current reactor cores. In addition, the new cladding is much more chemically stable, virtually eliminating the risk of generating potentially explosive hydrogen during loss-of-cooling accidents.
“Our collaborative work with Westinghouse brings more than a century of combined experience in nuclear energy innovation. Together, our team is uniquely qualified to drive technological advancement in nuclear energy,” said Dr. Christina Back, Vice President of Nuclear Technologies and Materials for General Atomics. “General Atomics has successfully demonstrated that our silicon carbide-based cladding meets key requirements, and as a company we are committed to bringing this advanced material to market to help the nuclear industry drive down costs and deliver significant safety benefits to current reactors.”
GA also strongly appreciates the Department of Energy’s support of the Accident Tolerant Fuel (ATF) program and the support the program has received from the U.S. Congress. GA’s engineered SiC-based material will eliminate or greatly mitigate the issues that can occur with metal cladding during accidents.
General Atomics (GA) has been at the cutting edge of global high-technology innovation for more than 60 years. GA’s world-renowned scientists perform research and development in critical fields such as nuclear energy, aerospace, medical diagnostics, advanced materials, and electromagnetics. GA leverages this groundbreaking research for both government and private industry, delivering innovative, practical solutions ranging from next-generation nuclear reactors and nuclear materials to remotely operated aircraft, and electromagnetic systems.