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    Experimental Study on Surrogate Nuclear Fuel Rods Under Reversed Cyclic Bending

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    The mechanical behavior of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) rods under reversed cyclic bending or bending fatigue must be understood to evaluate their vibration integrity in a transportation environment. This is especially important for high-burnup fuels (>45 GWd/MTU), which have the potential for increased structural damage. It has been demonstrated that the bending fatigue of SNF rods can be effectively studied using surrogate rods. In this investigation, surrogate rods made of stainless steel 304 cladding and aluminum oxide pellets were tested under load or moment control at a variety of amplitude levels at 5 Hz using the Cyclic Integrated Reversible-Bending Fatigue Tester developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The behavior of the rods was further characterized using flexural rigidity and hysteresis data, and fractography was performed on the failed rods. The proposed surrogate rods captured many of the characteristics of deformation and failure mode observed in SNF, including the linear to nonlinear deformation transition and large residual curvature in static tests, pellet pellet interface and pellet cladding mechanical interaction, failure mechanisms, and large variations in the initial structural condition. Rod degradation was measured and characterized by measuring the flexural rigidity; the degradation of the rigidity depended on both the moment amplitude applied and the initial structural condition of the rods. It was also shown that a cracking initiation site can be located on the internal surface or the external surface of cladding. Finally, fatigue damage to the bending rods can be described in terms of flexural rigidity, and the fatigue life of rods can be predicted once damage model parameters are properly evaluated. The developed experimental approach, test protocol, and analysis method can be used to study the vibration integrity of SNF rods in the future.


    spent nuclear fuels, vibration integrity, surrogate rods, reversed bending, cyclic fatigue, cladding failure

    Author Information:

    Wang, Hong
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge, TN

    Wang, Jy-An John
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge, TN

    Committee/Subcommittee: E08.03

    DOI: 10.1520/STP159820160051