New CANFLEX Fuel Discussed at First Seminar of Seasonby Jeremy Whitlock
Mr. Thompson is currently the acting Nuclear Safety Manager at Point Lepreau, and a key participant in the CANFLEX test irradiation program. Before joining Point Lepreau in 1986, Paul worked for AECL in the areas of CANDU 6 safety and licensing, performance improvement, and marketing, as well as CANDU 3 development. He is an active member of the Canadian Nuclear Society, both at the local and national level, and is currently its national President.
CANFLEX, a term derived from "CANDU Flexible Fuelling", represents an innovative fuel design under development at AECL for more than 15 years. Its new features include a greater number of fuel pins, in two different pin diameters, with small metal "buttons" along their length that improve heat transfer.
The new design is compatible with existing CANDU reactors, but offers certain performance benefits relative to current fuel. It is also an excellent carrier for advanced fuel cycles, such as slightly-enriched-uranium (SEU), which are of particular interest to off-shore customers.
Mr. Thompson explained how CANFLEX fuel, using natural uranium as in current CANDU fuel designs, can increase reactor performance. For a "mature" station like Point Lepreau this translates to economic and efficiency improvements that help offset some effects of plant ageing. All types of nuclear reactors, like all machines in general, see variations in performance over their lifespans, and consequently it makes good business sense to invest in efficiency improvements along the way.
The highlight of the program to date is the "demonstration irradiation" of a small number of CANFLEX bundles in two designated fuel channels at Point Lepreau, which, combined with full-scale hydraulic tests planned at Stern Labs in Hamilton, Ont., will provide the necessary knowledge for planning a full scale conversion to CANFLEX fuel. Once irradiated, some demonstration bundles will be moved to Chalk River Laboratories for detailed testing.
A full house attended the CNS seminar at the J.L.Gray Centre. Prior to Paul Thompsons presentation the local chapter held its AGM and elected a new Executive. The chairman of the Chalk River Branch of the CNS for the coming year is Al Lane.