Methodology of material testing for VVER fuel assemblies and fuel rods to support introduction of new fuel at NPPs


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The proposed methodology for postirradiation examination of VVER fuel assemblies (FAs)
and fuel rods is to be used for effective engineering support of the introduction of new fuel
at NPPs. The application of the proposed methodology allows improving the efficiency of
the material testing of irradiated fuel in terms of completeness and reliability of information
about the state and behavior of fuel under both normal operating conditions and under
design and beyond the designbasis accidents, as well as during the transportation and long
term storage. This methodology also allows diminishing the time to get information required
for introduction of new fuel at NPPs as well as reducing its cost.
In order to implement the proposed methodology, it is necessary to develop and put into
the material science practice new methods and facilities to conduct examination of irradiated
fuel, which are as follows: new nondestructive examination methods for fuel assemblies
and fuel rods; loop facilities and capsules to conduct irradiation tests of fuel in research
reactors; hot cell test facilities to subject fuel to testing under simulated emergency
conditions as well as transport and longterm storage conditions; fuel inspection facilities
in the NPP storage pools and research reactor pools.
Nowadays, many of the abovelisted methods and NDE facilities have been developed and
put into operation. They are as follows: bending stiffness test facility for VVER1000 FAs,
pulse eddy current testing of fuel claddings, measurement of fueltocladding gap, ultrasonic
test method for failed fuel rods, test facility intended for simulation of SNF dry storage
conditions, test facilities for the VVER1000 FA inspection and repair etc.

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