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Oak Ridge National Laboratory develops 3D printing micron nuclear reactor
[2020-05-19]

Researchers at the US Department of energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are improving their core design for 3D printing nuclear reactors, expanding the manufacturing process required for manufacturing, and developing methods for validating the consistency and reliability of printed components.

In 2019, ORNL launched the transformational challenge reactor (TCR) project, which aims to design, manufacture and run demonstration reactors for bulk manufacturing by 2023. This project takes advantage of ORNL in manufacturing, materials, nuclear science, nuclear engineering, high performance computing, data analysis and related fields. TCR will introduce new and advanced materials, use integrated sensors and control devices, provide highly optimized and efficient systems to reduce costs, rely on technological progress, and TCR has the potential to open up new ways in reactor design, manufacturing, licensing and operation.

ORNL director said that the nuclear industry was still constrained by the way of thinking about the design, construction and deployment of nuclear energy technology. DOE started the project in order to find a new way to develop reliable and clean energy transformation energy solutions quickly and economically. The TCR project has completed several basic tests, including the choice of core design and the March "sprint" that can verify the flexibility of the rapid prototyping reactor core of the incremental manufacturing technology. Researchers are concentrating on improving design and process, which will ensure an optimal and reliable energy system. The TCR core will be manufactured with advanced manufacturing and installed in a qualified container made of grade 304 stainless steel. The reactor system will be installed in a building with ventilation and filtration system in ORNL. TCR will be the fourteenth nuclear reactor built in ORNL.

As part of the development of 3D printing nuclear reactors, the project will also create a digital platform to help transfer the technology to the industrial sector, enabling the rapid growth of nuclear power technology. The whole TCR concept can be attributed to the significant progress in the technology of material processing. By using 3D printing, we can use technologies and materials that nuclear industry can not make use of in recent decades.

ORNL is working with Argonne, Idaho National Laboratories and industry to enable the technology to be quickly adopted and commercialized. The BWX technology company of the United States is providing three layers of isotropic carbon coated nuclear fuel (TRISO) manufacturing services for the project.

(translated by Han Fujuan, the world's nuclear news website)