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Title: Baseline Concept Description of a Small Modular High Temperature Reactor

The objective of this report is to provide a description of generic small modular high temperature reactors (herein denoted as an smHTR), summarize their distinguishing attributes, and lay out the research and development (R&D) required for commercialization. The generic concepts rely heavily on the modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor designs developed in the 1980s which were never built but for which pre-licensing or certification activities were conducted. The concept matured more recently under the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project, specifically in the areas of fuel and material qualification, methods development, and licensing. As all vendor-specific designs proposed under NGNP were all both ‘small’ or medium-sized and ‘modular’ by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Department of Energy (DOE) standards, the technical attributes, challenges, and R&D needs identified, addressed, and documented under NGNP are valid and appropriate in the context of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) applications. Although the term High Temperature Reactor (HTR) is commonly used to denote graphite-moderated, thermal spectrum reactors with coolant temperatures in excess of 650oC at the core outlet, in this report the historical term High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR) will be used to distinguish the gas-cooled technology described herein from its liquid salt-cooled cousin. Moreover,more » in this report it is to be understood that the outlet temperature of the helium in an HTGR has an upper limit of 950 degrees C which corresponds to the temperature to which certain alloys are currently being qualified under DOE’s ARC program. Although similar to the HTGR in just about every respect, the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) may have an outlet temperature in excess of 950 degrees C and is therefore farther from commercialization because of the challenges posed to materials exposed to these temperatures. The VHTR is the focus of R&D under the Generation IV program and its specific R&D needs will be included in this report when appropriate for comparison. The distinguishing features of the HTGR are the refractory (TRISO) coated particle fuel, the low-power density, graphite-moderated core, and the high outlet temperature of the inert helium coolant. The low power density and fuel form effectively eliminate the possibility of core melt, even upon a complete loss of coolant pressure and flow. The graphite, which constitutes the bulk of the core volume and mass, provides a large thermal buffer that absorbs fission heat such that thermal transients occur over a timespan of hours or even days. As chemically-inert helium is already a gas, there is no coolant temperature or void feedback on the neutronics and no phase change or corrosion product that could degrade heat transfer. Furthermore, the particle coatings and interstitial graphite retain fission products such that the source terms at the plant boundary remain well below actionable levels under all anticipated nominal and off-normal operating conditions. These attributes enable the reactor to supply process heat to a collocated industrial plant with negligible risk of contamination and minimal dynamic coupling of the facilities (Figure 1). The exceptional retentive properties of coated particle fuel in a graphite matrix were first demonstrated in the DRAGON reactor, a European research facility that began operation in 1964.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
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Country of Publication:
United States
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR); High Temperature Reactor (HTR); International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP); research and development (R&D); TDO; triso; VHTR