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Report No.

An Experimental study related to axial constraint of fuel rod under LOCA conditions

Nagase, Fumihisa 

The fracture threshold of the fuel decreases if the oxidized Zr alloy cladding is strongly constrained by the spacer grid during quenching in a loss-of-coolant accident. Therefore, the estimation of realistic levels of the axial constraint has been a subject of significant interest on fuel safety. In this study, a test assembly consisting of a PWR-type simulated fuel segment and a 3$$times$$3 grid piece was heated in steam, cooled, and quenched, and the axial constraint force on the fuel segment was measured. The constraint force of the Zircaloy grid gradually decreased with temperature. Once the Zircaloy grid was heated to $$>$$ 1060 K, the reduced constraint force had difficulty recovering, and thus the maximum constraint force during cooling and quenching was $$<$$ 10 N. The constraint force was clearly reduced at $$>$$ 1070 K during the tests with the Inconel grid. However, the reduced constraint force partially recovered during cooling. As a result, the maximum constraint force during cooling and quenching was 20 to 50 N for the Inconel grid. In conclusion, oxidation, ballooning, rupture, or eutectic formation would not generally cause an extremely strong constraint, as predicted by previous studies, at the grid position.



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