skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect


Utilizing the results of Texas A&M University (TAMU) senior design projects on tritium production in four different small modular reactors (SMR), the Savannah River National Laboratory’s (SRNL) developed an optimization model evaluating tritium production versus uranium utilization under a FY2013 plant directed research development (PDRD) project. The model is a tool that can evaluate varying scenarios and various reactor designs to maximize the production of tritium per unit of unobligated United States (US) origin uranium that is in limited supply. The primary module in the model compares the consumption of uranium for various production reactors against the base case of Watts Bar I running a nominal load of 1,696 tritium producing burnable absorber rods (TPBARs) with an average refueling of 41,000 kg low enriched uranium (LEU) on an 18 month cycle. After inputting an initial year, starting inventory of unobligated uranium and tritium production forecast, the model will compare and contrast the depletion rate of the LEU between the entered alternatives. This is an annual tritium production rate of approximately 0.059 grams of tritium per kilogram of LEU (g-T/kg-LEU). To date, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license has not been amended to accept a full load of TPBARs so themore » nominal tritium production has not yet been achieved. The alternatives currently loaded into the model include the three light water SMRs evaluated in TAMU senior projects including, mPower, Holtec and NuScale designs. Initial evaluations of tritium production in light water reactor (LWR) based SMRs using optimized loads TPBARs is on the order 0.02-0.06 grams of tritium per kilogram of LEU used. The TAMU students also chose to model tritium production in the GE-Hitachi SPRISM, a pooltype sodium fast reactor (SFR) utilizing a modified TPBAR type target. The team was unable to complete their project so no data is available. In order to include results from a fast reactor, the SRNL Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) ran a Monte Carlo N-Particle (MCNP) model of a basic SFR for comparison. A 600MWth core surrounded by a lithium blanket produced approximately 1,000 grams of tritium annually with a 13% enriched, 6 year core. This is similar results to a mid-1990’s study where the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF), a 400 MWth reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), could produce about 1,000 grams with an external lithium target. Normalized to the LWRs values, comparative tritium production for an SFR could be approximately 0.31 g-T/kg LEU.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States