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Title: Molten salt reactor neutronics and fuel cycle modeling and simulation with SCALE

Abstract

Current interest in advanced nuclear energy and molten salt reactor (MSR) concepts has enhanced interest in building the tools necessary to analyze these systems. A Python script known as ChemTriton has been developed to simulate equilibrium MSR fuel cycle performance by modeling the changing isotopic composition of an irradiated fuel salt using SCALE for neutron transport and depletion calculations. Some capabilities in ChemTriton that have improved, include a generic geometry capable of modeling multi-zone and multi-fluid systems, enhanced time-dependent feed and separations, and a critical concentration search. Although more generally applicable, the capabilities developed to date are illustrated in this paper in three applied problems: (1) simulating the startup of a thorium-based MSR fuel cycle (a likely scenario requires the first of these MSRs to be started without available 233U); (2) determining the effect of the removal of different fission products on MSR operations; and (3) obtaining the equilibrium concentration of a mixed-oxide light-water reactor fuel in a two-stage fuel cycle with a sodium fast reactor. Moreover, the third problem is chosen to demonstrate versatility in an application to analyze the fuel cycle of a non-MSR system. During the first application, the initial fuel salt compositions fueled with different sourcesmore » of fissile material are made feasible after (1) removing the associated nonfissile actinides after much of the initial fissile isotopes have burned and (2) optimizing the thorium concentration to maintain a critical configuration without significantly reducing breeding capability. In the second application, noble metal, volatile gas, and rare earth element fission products are shown to have a strong negative effect on criticality in a uranium-fueled thermal-spectrum MSR; their removal significantly increases core lifetime (by 30%) and fuel utilization. In the third application, the fuel of a mixed-oxide light-water reactor approaches an equilibrium composition after 20 depletion steps, demonstrating the potential for the longer time scales required to achieve equilibrium for solid-fueled systems over liquid fuel systems. This time to equilibrium can be reduced by starting with an initial fuel composition closer to that of the equilibrium fuel, reducing the need to handle time-dependent fuel compositions.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE), Fuel Cycle Technologies (NE-5)
OSTI Identifier:
1341557
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Annals of Nuclear Energy (Oxford)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Annals of Nuclear Energy (Oxford); Journal Volume: 101; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0306-4549
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; Molten salt reactors; Fuel cycle; Depletion; Salt treatment; Salt separations

Citation Formats

Betzler, Benjamin R., Powers, Jeffrey J., and Worrall, Andrew. Molten salt reactor neutronics and fuel cycle modeling and simulation with SCALE. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1016/j.anucene.2016.11.040.
Betzler, Benjamin R., Powers, Jeffrey J., & Worrall, Andrew. Molten salt reactor neutronics and fuel cycle modeling and simulation with SCALE. United States. doi:10.1016/j.anucene.2016.11.040.
Betzler, Benjamin R., Powers, Jeffrey J., and Worrall, Andrew. Wed . "Molten salt reactor neutronics and fuel cycle modeling and simulation with SCALE". United States. doi:10.1016/j.anucene.2016.11.040. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1341557.
@article{osti_1341557,
title = {Molten salt reactor neutronics and fuel cycle modeling and simulation with SCALE},
author = {Betzler, Benjamin R. and Powers, Jeffrey J. and Worrall, Andrew},
abstractNote = {Current interest in advanced nuclear energy and molten salt reactor (MSR) concepts has enhanced interest in building the tools necessary to analyze these systems. A Python script known as ChemTriton has been developed to simulate equilibrium MSR fuel cycle performance by modeling the changing isotopic composition of an irradiated fuel salt using SCALE for neutron transport and depletion calculations. Some capabilities in ChemTriton that have improved, include a generic geometry capable of modeling multi-zone and multi-fluid systems, enhanced time-dependent feed and separations, and a critical concentration search. Although more generally applicable, the capabilities developed to date are illustrated in this paper in three applied problems: (1) simulating the startup of a thorium-based MSR fuel cycle (a likely scenario requires the first of these MSRs to be started without available 233U); (2) determining the effect of the removal of different fission products on MSR operations; and (3) obtaining the equilibrium concentration of a mixed-oxide light-water reactor fuel in a two-stage fuel cycle with a sodium fast reactor. Moreover, the third problem is chosen to demonstrate versatility in an application to analyze the fuel cycle of a non-MSR system. During the first application, the initial fuel salt compositions fueled with different sources of fissile material are made feasible after (1) removing the associated nonfissile actinides after much of the initial fissile isotopes have burned and (2) optimizing the thorium concentration to maintain a critical configuration without significantly reducing breeding capability. In the second application, noble metal, volatile gas, and rare earth element fission products are shown to have a strong negative effect on criticality in a uranium-fueled thermal-spectrum MSR; their removal significantly increases core lifetime (by 30%) and fuel utilization. In the third application, the fuel of a mixed-oxide light-water reactor approaches an equilibrium composition after 20 depletion steps, demonstrating the potential for the longer time scales required to achieve equilibrium for solid-fueled systems over liquid fuel systems. This time to equilibrium can be reduced by starting with an initial fuel composition closer to that of the equilibrium fuel, reducing the need to handle time-dependent fuel compositions.},
doi = {10.1016/j.anucene.2016.11.040},
journal = {Annals of Nuclear Energy (Oxford)},
number = C,
volume = 101,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Wed Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

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  • This paper discusses liquid-fuel molten salt reactors, how they will operate under normal, transient, and accident conditions, and the results of an expert elicitation to determine the corresponding neutronic phenomena important to understanding their behavior. Identifying these phenomena will enable the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to develop or identify modeling functionalities and tools required to carry out confirmatory analyses that examine the validity and accuracy of applicants’ calculations and help determine the margin of safety in plant design. NRC frequently does an expert elicitation using a Phenomena Identification and Ranking Table (PIRT) to identify and evaluate the state ofmore » knowledge of important modeling phenomena. However, few details about the design of these reactors and the sequence of events during accidents are known, so the process used was considered a preliminary PIRT. A panel met to define phenomena that would need to be modeled and considered the impact/importance of each phenomenon with respect to specific figures-of-merit (FoMs) (e.g., power distribution, fluence, kinetics parameters and reactivity). Each FoM reflected a potential impact on radionuclide release or loss of a barrier to release. The panel considered what the path forward might be with respect to being able to model the phenomenon in a simulation code. Results are explained for both thermal and fast spectrum designs.« less
  • Since thorium is an abundant fertile material, there is hope for the thorium-cycle fuels for an accelerator driven subcritical system (ADS). The ADS utilizes neutrons, which are generated by high-energy protons of giga-electron-volt-grade, but cross sections for the interaction of high-energy particles are not available for use in current ADS engineering design. In this paper the neutron behavior in the ADS target based on the related experimental data is clarified, and the feasibility of the ADS regarding both the molten salts (Flibe: {sup 7}LiF-BeF{sub 2}-ThF{sub 4}-{sup 233}UF{sub 4}, chloride: NaCl-ThCl{sub 4}-{sup 233}UCl{sub 4}) and oxide ([Th, {sup 233}U]O{sub 2}) fuelsmore » is examined. The difference between the experiment and the calculated result at the ADS high-energy region is discussed. In a comparison of the fuels, the time evolution of k{sub eff} and the beam current in the burning period are calculated. The calculated results suggest that the ADS with solid fuel has better future prospects than that with molten-salt fuels. The ADS with Flibe molten-salt fuel tends to require a high beam current and consequently needs the installation of a metallic spallation target and the continuous removal for fission products and protactinium. In comparison with the Flibe fuel, the ADS with chloride fuel has a flux distribution that is similar to a solid fuel reactor.« less
  • The Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) is one of the most promising system proposed by Generation IV Forum (GIF) for future nuclear reactor systems. Advantages of the MSR are significantly larger compared to other reactor system, and is mainly achieved from its liquid nature of fuel and coolant. Further improvement to this system, which is a natural circulating molten fuel salt inside its tube in the reactor core is proposed, to achieve advantages of reducing and simplifying the MSR design proposed by GIF. Thermal hydraulic analysis on the proposed system was completed using a commercial computation fluid dynamics (CFD) software calledmore » FLUENT by ANSYS Inc. An understanding on theory behind this unique natural circulation flow inside the tube caused by fission heat generated in molten fuel salt and tube cooling was briefly introduced. Currently, no commercial CFD software could perfectly simulate natural circulation flow, hence, modeling this flow problem in FLUENT is introduced and analyzed to obtain best simulation results. Results obtained demonstrate the existence of periodical transient nature of flow problem, hence improvements in tube design is proposed based on the analysis on temperature and velocity profile. Results show that the proposed system could operate at up to 750MW core power, given that turbulence are enhanced throughout flow region, and precise molten fuel salt physical properties could be defined. At the request of the authors and the Proceedings Editor the name of the co-author Andrea Cioncolini was corrected from Andrea Coincolini. The same name correction was made in the Acknowledgement section on page 030004-10 and in reference number 4. The updated article was published on 11 May 2015.« less
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