In the fall of 2018, Stern Laboratories (SL) completed the design and construction of a simulated nuclear fuel test assembly for the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (IRSN), located in France. The test assembly will be used to perform thermal-hydraulic experiments for simulated loss of coolant accidents (LOCA). These experiments will include partially blocked fuel assemblies: acronym COAL for COolability of a fuel Assembly during LOCA.
Work on the project began in 2015 with the design and construction of 60 electrically heated fuel simulators, plus 1 prototype used to demonstrate the reliability of the simulator. Over 100 heat-up (up to 1000°C) followed by water quench cycles were performed by SL on the prototype simulator without incurring damage.
Late in 2016, work began on the design and construction of the pressure boundary components and heated simulated fuel assembly flow shroud designed to operate with superheated steam up to 900°C at 30 bar pressure.
The full assembly was completed in the summer of 2018. Factory acceptance tests (FAT) to demonstrate the temperature uniformity of the heated shroud at 700°C and pressure tests up to 30 bar were successfully completed in the fall of 2018.
During the summer of 2019, SL was awarded the contract to modify existing test facilities and perform the experiments.
In addition, all unique tooling required to assemble, maneuver and lift the assembly was designed and manufactured by SL.
Pictured above: IRSN test section vertical lift
The first technical review meeting with the customer representatives for the new contract was held at Stern Laboratories in December, 2019. Below is a group photo.
Pictured above from Left to right: Beniot Bruyere (IRSN), Rick Fortman (Stern Labs Vice President), Quentin Grando (IRSN), Gordon Hadaller (Stern Labs President), Richard Van Lochem (Project Eng. Stern Labs)