US NRC approves GNF fuel innovation

Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi Ltd and Toshiba Corporation, announced on 11 September that its newest boiling water reactor (BWR) fuel innovation, NSF channels, has been approved for use by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Lance Hall, senior vice president, Nuclear Fuels and Services, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, said NSF is “an innovative solution designed to reduce channel bow and control rod blade interference, reducing the need for operational testing and allowing our customers to operate their plants with higher efficiency.”

NSF channel material is designed to be resistant to fluence gradient bow and shadow corrosion induced bow, two of the three major sources of fuel channel distortion. It is built using advanced manufacturing techniques and a proprietary combination of zirconium, niobium, tin and iron.

NSF channels were first made available in lead use assemblies in 2002. Since then a total of more than 300 NSF channels have been loaded into BWR plants. Based on the performance of these assemblies a Licensing Topical Report was submitted to the NRC in 2013 and final approval for commercial application of the material was received on 2 September.

NSF channel material will be available in reload quantities starting with outages in the spring of 2016. NSF will be standard on GNF3 bundles, which are scheduled to be available for full reloads in 2018.