Fully coupled multiphysics modeling of enhanced thermal conductivity UO2–BeO fuel performance in a light water reactor

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-523
Journal / PublicationNuclear Engineering and Design
Online published28 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2015


Commercial light water reactor fuel UO2 has a low thermal conductivity that leads to the development of a large temperature gradient across the fuel pellet, limiting the reactor operational performance due to the effects that include thermal stresses causing pellet cladding interaction and the release of fission product gases. This study presents the development of a modeling and simulation for enhanced thermal conductivity UO2–BeO fuel behavior in a light water reactor, using self-defined multiple physics models fully coupled based on the framework of COMSOL Multiphysics. Almost all the related physical models are considered, including heat generation and conduction, species diffusion, thermomechanics (thermal expansion, elastic strain, densification, and fission product swelling strain), grain growth, fission gas production and release, gap heat transfer, mechanical contact, gap/plenum pressure with plenum volume, cladding thermal and irradiation creep and oxidation. All the phenomenal models and materials properties are implemented into COMSOL Multiphysics finite-element platform with a 2D axisymmetric geometry of a fuel pellet and cladding. UO2–BeO enhanced thermal conductivity nuclear fuel would decrease fuel temperatures and facilitate a reduction in pellet cladding interaction from our simulation results through lessening thermal stresses that result in fuel cracking, relocation, and swelling, so that the safety of the reactor would be improved.

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