European Commission supported a wide research project entitled “Spent Fuel Stability under repository conditions” (SFS) within the 5th FWP, the aim of which was to develop a common understanding of the radionuclides release from spent nuclear fuel in geological disposal and build a RN release model in order to assess the fuel performance. This project achieved by the end of 2004 focuses both on the Instant Release Fraction (IRF) model and the Matrix Alteration Model (MAM).
A new IRF model was developed based on the anticipated performances of the various fuel microstructures (gap, rim, grains boundaries) and the potential diffusion of RN before the canister breaching. However, this model lets the choice to the end-user about the degree of conservativeness to consider.
In addition, fuel alteration has been demonstrated to be linked to the production of radiolytic oxidants by water radiolysis at the fuel interface, the oxidation of the fuel interface by radiolytic oxidants and the subsequent release of uranium under the influence of aqueous ligands. A large set of experimental data was therefore acquired in order (i) to upgrade the current radiolytic kinetic scheme, (ii) to experimentally correlate the fuel alteration rate and the fuel specific alpha activity by performing experiments on alpha doped samples, (iii) to experimentally test the potential inhibitor effect of hydrogen on fuel dissolution. Based on these results, a new MAM was developed, which was also calibrated using the experiments on inactive UO2 samples. This model was finally applied to representative granitic, salt and clayey environment to predict spent fuel long-term fuel performance.