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Oxide Fuels: Microstructure and Composition Variations (OMICO), Final report, EUR 23104

Project ID: FIKS-CT-2001-00141
Funded under: FP5-EAECTP C


In the project OMICO (Oxide Fuels: Microstructure and Composition Variations), the behaviour of three different fuel compositions (UO2, (U,Pu)O2 and (Th,Pu)O2) has been studied. For each composition, two different microstructures were inter-compared (...). This resulted in six different fuel types which were assembled in a small experimental assembly and irradiated under representative pressurised-water reactor conditions. The primary objective was to provide insight in the separate effects of fuel chemistry (...) on the one hand and the degree of dispersion of the fissile material (microstructure) on the other hand.
The project OMICO incorporated several challenging objectives on nuclear fuels, requiring technological developments in various areas. The complexity of some of these technological developments was initially overlooked and/or their extent was underestimated, leading to substantially higher expenses at the research institutes JRC/ITU for manufacturing and SCK*CEN for irradiation than originally foreseen and a substantial delay of the project (...). Despite its difficulties, OMICO did achieve important successes as well.
- The experimental OMICO assembly had to be calculated in a three-dimensional approach. At the time of start of the OMICO project, 3D Monte Carlo calculations were not yet established for the complex core of the BR2 reactor. The thorough cross-checks with the conventional 2D approach, comparison with reference programmes and the irradiation of a dummy assembly contributed to the confidence in the MCNP modeling of complex experiments in the BR2 reactor, and are today common practice.
- Fuel manufacturing to tight LWR specifications demonstrated once again ITU¿s key role as an independent experimental fuel manufacturer in Europe, and the OMICO programme has extended the core competence of this laboratory to heterogeneous (Th,Pu)O2 and UO2 fuels.

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