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Title: Advanced Burner Reactor with Breed-and-Burn Thorium Blankets for Improved Economics and Resource Utilization

Abstract

This study assesses the feasibility of designing Seed and Blanket (S&B) Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) to generate a significant fraction of the core power from radial thorium fueled blankets that operate on the Breed-and-Burn (B&B) mode without exceeding the radiation damage constraint of presently verified cladding materials. The S&B core is designed to maximize the fraction of neutrons that radially leak from the seed (or “driver”) into the subcritical blanket and reduce neutron loss via axial leakage. The blanket in the S&B core makes beneficial use of the leaking neutrons for improved economics and resource utilization. A specific objective of this study is to maximize the fraction of core power that can be generated by the blanket without violating the thermal hydraulic and material constraints. Since the blanket fuel requires no reprocessing along with remote fuel fabrication, a larger fraction of power from the blanket will result in a smaller fuel recycling capacity and lower fuel cycle cost per unit of electricity generated. A unique synergism is found between a low conversion ratio (CR) seed and a B&B blanket fueled by thorium. Among several benefits, this synergism enables the very low leakage S&B cores to have small positive coolant voidingmore » reactivity coefficient and large enough negative Doppler coefficient even when using inert matrix fuel for the seed. The benefits of this synergism are maximized when using an annular seed surrounded by an inner and outer thorium blankets. Among the high-performance S&B cores designed to benefit from this unique synergism are: (1) the ultra-long cycle core that features a cycle length of ~7 years; (2) the high-transmutation rate core where the seed fuel features a TRU CR of 0.0. Its TRU transmutation rate is comparable to that of the reference Advanced Burner Reactor (ABR) with CR of 0.5 and the thorium blanket can generate close to 60% of the core power; but requires only one sixth of the reprocessing and fabrication capacity per unit of core power. Nevertheless, these high-performance cores were designed to set upper bounds on the S&B core performance by using larger height and pressure drop than those of typical SFR design. A study was subsequently undertaken to quantify the tradeoff between S&B core design variables and the core performance. This study concludes that a viable S&B core can be designed without significant deviation from SFR core design practices. For example, the S&B core with 120cm active height will be comparable in volume, HM mass and specific power with the S-PRISM core and could fit within the S-PRISM reactor vessel. 43% of this core power will be generated by the once-through thorium blanket; the required capacity for reprocessing and remote fuel fabrication per unit of electricity generated will be approximately one fifth of that for a comparable ABR. The sodium void worth of this 120cm tall S&B core is significantly less positive than that of the reference ABR and the Doppler coefficient is only slightly smaller even though the seed uses a fertile-free fuel. The seed in the high transmutation core requires inert matrix fuel (TRU-40Zr) that has been successfully irradiated by the Fuel Cycle Research & Development program. An additional sensitivity analysis was later conducted to remove the bias introduced by the discrepancy between radiation damage constraints -- 200 DPA applied for S&B cores and fast fluence of 4x1023 n(>0.1MeV)/cm2 applied for ABR core design. Although the performance characteristics of the S&B cores are sensitive to the radiation damage constraint applied, the S&B cores offer very significant performance improvements relative to the conventional ABR core design when using identical constraint.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC, Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
OSTI Identifier:
1246908
Report Number(s):
12-3486
12-3486
DOE Contract Number:
AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS

Citation Formats

Greenspan, Ehud. Advanced Burner Reactor with Breed-and-Burn Thorium Blankets for Improved Economics and Resource Utilization. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.2172/1246908.
Greenspan, Ehud. Advanced Burner Reactor with Breed-and-Burn Thorium Blankets for Improved Economics and Resource Utilization. United States. doi:10.2172/1246908.
Greenspan, Ehud. Wed . "Advanced Burner Reactor with Breed-and-Burn Thorium Blankets for Improved Economics and Resource Utilization". United States. doi:10.2172/1246908. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1246908.
@article{osti_1246908,
title = {Advanced Burner Reactor with Breed-and-Burn Thorium Blankets for Improved Economics and Resource Utilization},
author = {Greenspan, Ehud},
abstractNote = {This study assesses the feasibility of designing Seed and Blanket (S&B) Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) to generate a significant fraction of the core power from radial thorium fueled blankets that operate on the Breed-and-Burn (B&B) mode without exceeding the radiation damage constraint of presently verified cladding materials. The S&B core is designed to maximize the fraction of neutrons that radially leak from the seed (or “driver”) into the subcritical blanket and reduce neutron loss via axial leakage. The blanket in the S&B core makes beneficial use of the leaking neutrons for improved economics and resource utilization. A specific objective of this study is to maximize the fraction of core power that can be generated by the blanket without violating the thermal hydraulic and material constraints. Since the blanket fuel requires no reprocessing along with remote fuel fabrication, a larger fraction of power from the blanket will result in a smaller fuel recycling capacity and lower fuel cycle cost per unit of electricity generated. A unique synergism is found between a low conversion ratio (CR) seed and a B&B blanket fueled by thorium. Among several benefits, this synergism enables the very low leakage S&B cores to have small positive coolant voiding reactivity coefficient and large enough negative Doppler coefficient even when using inert matrix fuel for the seed. The benefits of this synergism are maximized when using an annular seed surrounded by an inner and outer thorium blankets. Among the high-performance S&B cores designed to benefit from this unique synergism are: (1) the ultra-long cycle core that features a cycle length of ~7 years; (2) the high-transmutation rate core where the seed fuel features a TRU CR of 0.0. Its TRU transmutation rate is comparable to that of the reference Advanced Burner Reactor (ABR) with CR of 0.5 and the thorium blanket can generate close to 60% of the core power; but requires only one sixth of the reprocessing and fabrication capacity per unit of core power. Nevertheless, these high-performance cores were designed to set upper bounds on the S&B core performance by using larger height and pressure drop than those of typical SFR design. A study was subsequently undertaken to quantify the tradeoff between S&B core design variables and the core performance. This study concludes that a viable S&B core can be designed without significant deviation from SFR core design practices. For example, the S&B core with 120cm active height will be comparable in volume, HM mass and specific power with the S-PRISM core and could fit within the S-PRISM reactor vessel. 43% of this core power will be generated by the once-through thorium blanket; the required capacity for reprocessing and remote fuel fabrication per unit of electricity generated will be approximately one fifth of that for a comparable ABR. The sodium void worth of this 120cm tall S&B core is significantly less positive than that of the reference ABR and the Doppler coefficient is only slightly smaller even though the seed uses a fertile-free fuel. The seed in the high transmutation core requires inert matrix fuel (TRU-40Zr) that has been successfully irradiated by the Fuel Cycle Research & Development program. An additional sensitivity analysis was later conducted to remove the bias introduced by the discrepancy between radiation damage constraints -- 200 DPA applied for S&B cores and fast fluence of 4x1023 n(>0.1MeV)/cm2 applied for ABR core design. Although the performance characteristics of the S&B cores are sensitive to the radiation damage constraint applied, the S&B cores offer very significant performance improvements relative to the conventional ABR core design when using identical constraint.},
doi = {10.2172/1246908},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Nov 04 00:00:00 EST 2015},
month = {Wed Nov 04 00:00:00 EST 2015}
}

Technical Report:

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  • This report evaluates the enhanced resource utilization in an advanced pressurized water reactor (PWR) concept using a composite of selected improvements identified in a companion study. The selected improvements were in the areas of reduced loss of neutrons to control poisons, reduced loss of neutrons in leakage from the core, and improved blanket/reflector concepts. These improvements were incorporated into a single composite advanced PWR. A preliminary assessment of resource requirements and costs and impact on safety are presented.
  • This document is an interim report under ACDA BOA AC9NX707, Task Order 80-03, which covers the evaluation of certain potential improvements in pressurized water reactor designs intended to enhance uranium fuel utilization. The objective of these evaluations is to seek advanced, non-retrofittable improvements that could possibly be commercialized by the end of the century, and, on the basis of a preliminary evaluation, to select compatible improvements for incorporation into a composite advanced pressurized water reactor concept. The principal areas of investigation include reduced parasitic absorption of neutrons (Task 1), reduced neutron leakage (Task 2), and alternative fuel design concepts (Taskmore » 3). To the extent possible, the advanced concept developed in an earlier study (Retrofittable Modifications to Pressurized Water Reactors for Improved Resource Utilization, SSA-128, October 1980) is used as a basis in developing the advanced composite concept. The reference design considered typical of present PWR commercial practice is the system described in RESAR-414, Reference Safety Analysis Report, Westinghouse Nuclear Energy Systems, October 1976.« less
  • A core design concept and fuel management strategy, designated breed/burn, has been evaluated for heterogeneous fast breeder reactors. In this concept internal blanket assemblies after fissile material is bred in over several incore cycles, are shuffled into a moderated radial blanket and/or central island. The most promising materials combination identified used thorium in the internal blankets (due to the superior performance of epithermal Th-U233 systems) and zirconium hydride (ZrH/sub 16/) as the moderator (because of the compact assembly and core designs it permitted).
  • This project is organized under four major tasks (each of which has two or more subtasks) with contributions among the three collaborating organizations (MIT, INEEL and ANL-West): Task A: Core Physics and Fuel Cycle; Task B: Core Thermal Hydraulics; Task C: Plant Design; Task D: Fuel Design The lead PI, Michael J. Driscoll, has consolidated and summarized the technical progress submissions provided by the contributing investigators from all sites, under the above principal task headings.
  • This project is organized under four major tasks (each of which has two or more subtasks) with contributions among the three collaborating organizations (MIT, INEEL and ANL-West): Task A: Core Physics and Fuel Cycle; Task B: Core Thermal Hydraulics; Task C: Plant Design Task; and D: Fuel Design.