An R&D activity aimed at assessing the in-reactor response of the innovative Inert Matrix-Thoria fuel has been undertaken, through a first step irradiation experiment based on HEU oxide as fissile. This experiment consisting in a representative inert matrix-thoria fuel test rig to be irradiated in the HWBR-Halden. Planned design, fuel fabrication and test rig assembly actions are underway through the ENEA-HP co-operation in the aim of starting the irradiation beginning year 2000. A second irradiation experiment based on Pu bearing fuel is expected to follow afterwards. The results from this experiment are expected to be worthy also for MAs transmutation via inert carriers such as the calcia-stabilized zirconia that we have selected for the case. A IFA-Type III test rig for the Halden HWBR is foreseen with a 6 rods fuel bundle and active length of about 500 mm. The minimum expected equivalent burn-up is 33 MWD/kg, which will correspond to about 600 EFPD (6 cycles of the Halden HWBR) during a 3-year irradiation time. The test rig will be instrumented so as to keep the following main parameters tracked: fuel centreline temperature, fuel stack elongation, FGR. For possible swelling assessment, off-line examinations in conjunction with PIE are foreseen. The design features of the experiment as well as some results of neutronic calculations are here reported.
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