October 25, 2022 – Framatome announced the completion of the second 18-month fuel cycle of its GAIA PROtect Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) technology at Georgia Power’s Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant Unit 2. Following 36 months of operations, inspections confirm the chromium-coated fuel rods maintain their original characteristics and the chromia-enhanced pellets operate as designed. These full-length fuel rods complete with chromia-enhanced pellets are the first-of-a-kind operating in the U.S.
“Southern Nuclear is a recognized leader in our industry for its incremental deployment of enhanced accident tolerant fuel technology,” said Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president, Fuel Business Unit at Framatome. “We share this significant milestone for our PROtect program, demonstrating our technology performs to the industry’s highest standards. The performance of this fuel after three years in a reactor core is a very important step in the development and industrialization of innovative solutions for our customers.”
Southern Nuclear, operator of Plant Vogtle, removed and inspected the four lead fuel assemblies (LFAs) during the spring refueling outage. This milestone concludes the second cycle of operation for the LFAs that were inserted into the reactor in April 2019. The LFAs are now operating in their third and final 18‑month cycle and will undergo more comprehensive measurements when the final cycle is complete.
GAIA fuel assemblies consist of Framatome’s advanced chromium coating applied to zirconium alloy cladding, and chromia-enhanced fuel pellets. These two technologies improve the safety for nuclear plant operators in the case of an unlikely event, while offering increased resistance to debris fretting, reducing the likelihood of a fuel failure during normal operations.
With the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Accident Tolerant Fuel program, Framatome pioneered the development and deployment of this technology with the collective knowledge, skills and expertise of partners and leaders from across the nuclear sector.
The LFAs were fabricated at Framatome’s manufacturing facility in Richland, Washington.
GAIA fuel assembly with PROtect EATF technologies