The release of radionuclides from spent nuclear fuel in contact with water is controlled by two processes – the dissolution of the UO2 grains and the rapid release of fission products segregated either to the gap between the fuel and the cladding or to the UO2 grain boundaries. The rapid release is often referred to as the Instant Release Fraction (IRF) and is of interest for the safety assessment of geological repositories for spent fuel due to the potential dose contribution.
Previous studies have shown that the instant release fraction can be correlated to the fission gas release (FGR) from the spent fuel. Studies comparing results from samples in the form of pellets, fragments, powders and a fuel rodlet have shown that the sample preparation has a significant impact on the instant release, indicating that the differentiation between gap release and grain boundary release should be further explored.
Today, there are trends towards power uprates, longer fuel cycles and increasing burn-up putting additional requirements on the nuclear fuel. These requirements are met by the development of new fuel types, such as UO2 fuels containing dopants or additives. The additives and dopants affect fuel properties such as grain size and fission gas release. In the present study we have performed experimental leaching studies using two high burnup fuels with and without additives/dopants and compared the fuel types with respect to their instant release behavior. The results of the leaching of the samples for the 3 initial contact periods; 1, 7 and 23 days are reported here.