After the tsunami incident in Fukushima in March 2011, the international community is set to identify appropriate nuclear materials with increased accident tolerance with respect to the traditional UO2-zirconium alloy fuel system permitting loss of active cooling for a considerably longer time period, while maintaining or improving the fuel performance during normal operations. The researched safety characteristics of these advanced fuels are mainly: (a) Improved reaction kinetics with steam; (b) Slower hydrogen production rate; and (c) Enhanced retention of fission products. In the US the Department of Energy is supporting the development of an improved cladding using advanced steels such as the iron-chromium-aluminum (FeCrAl) alloy system. Environmental test results show that FeCrAl alloys are highly resistant to corrosion and environmental cracking under normal operation conditions and extremely resistant to attack by steam under accident conditions. That is, the replacement of a zirconium alloy using a ferritic material containing chromium and aluminum appears to be the most near term implementation for accident tolerant fuels.

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