skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Thermal- and Fast-Spectrum Molten Salt Reactors for Actinide Burning and Fuel Production

Abstract

In a molten salt reactor (MSR), the fuel is dissolved in a fluoride salt coolant. The technology was partly developed in the 1950s and 1960s. With changing goals for advanced reactors and new technologies, there is currently a renewed interest in MSRs. The new technologies include (1) Brayton power cycles (rather than steam cycles) that eliminate many of the historical challenges in building MSRs and (2) the conceptual development of several fast-spectrum MSRs that have large negative temperature and void coefficients, a unique safety characteristic not found in solid-fuel fast reactors. Earlier MSRs were thermal-neutron-spectrum reactors. Compared with solid-fueled reactors, MSR systems have lower fissile inventories, no radiation damage constraint on attainable fuel burnup, no spent nuclear fuel, no requirement to fabricate and handle solid fuel, and a single isotopic composition of fuel in the reactor. These and other characteristics may enable MSRs to have potentially unique capabilities and competitive economics for actinide burning and extending fuel resources. The status, unique characteristics, and recent worldwide advances in MSRs are described.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
OSTI Identifier:
931822
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: Global 2007: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Systems, Boise, ID, USA, 20070909, 20070913
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS; 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; ACTINIDES; FAST REACTORS; MOLTEN SALT REACTORS; NUCLEAR FUELS; PRODUCTION; SOLID FUELS; VOID COEFFICIENT

Citation Formats

Forsberg, Charles W. Thermal- and Fast-Spectrum Molten Salt Reactors for Actinide Burning and Fuel Production. United States: N. p., 2007. Web.
Forsberg, Charles W. Thermal- and Fast-Spectrum Molten Salt Reactors for Actinide Burning and Fuel Production. United States.
Forsberg, Charles W. Mon . "Thermal- and Fast-Spectrum Molten Salt Reactors for Actinide Burning and Fuel Production". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_931822,
title = {Thermal- and Fast-Spectrum Molten Salt Reactors for Actinide Burning and Fuel Production},
author = {Forsberg, Charles W},
abstractNote = {In a molten salt reactor (MSR), the fuel is dissolved in a fluoride salt coolant. The technology was partly developed in the 1950s and 1960s. With changing goals for advanced reactors and new technologies, there is currently a renewed interest in MSRs. The new technologies include (1) Brayton power cycles (rather than steam cycles) that eliminate many of the historical challenges in building MSRs and (2) the conceptual development of several fast-spectrum MSRs that have large negative temperature and void coefficients, a unique safety characteristic not found in solid-fuel fast reactors. Earlier MSRs were thermal-neutron-spectrum reactors. Compared with solid-fueled reactors, MSR systems have lower fissile inventories, no radiation damage constraint on attainable fuel burnup, no spent nuclear fuel, no requirement to fabricate and handle solid fuel, and a single isotopic composition of fuel in the reactor. These and other characteristics may enable MSRs to have potentially unique capabilities and competitive economics for actinide burning and extending fuel resources. The status, unique characteristics, and recent worldwide advances in MSRs are described.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2007},
month = {Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2007}
}

Conference:
Other availability
Please see Document Availability for additional information on obtaining the full-text document. Library patrons may search WorldCat to identify libraries that hold this conference proceeding.

Save / Share:
  • In a molten salt reactor (MSR), the fuel is dissolved in a fluoride salt coolant. The technology was partly developed in the 1950's and 1960's. With changing goals for advanced reactors and new technologies, there is currently a renewed interest in MSRs. The new technologies include (1) Brayton power cycles (rather than steam cycles) that eliminate many of the historical challenges in building MSRs and (2) the conceptual development of several fast-spectrum MSRs that have large negative temperature and void coefficients, a unique safety characteristic not found in solid-fuel fast reactors. Earlier MSRs were thermal-neutron-spectrum reactors. Compared with solid-fueled reactors,more » MSR systems have lower fissile inventories, no radiation damage constraint on attainable fuel burnup, no spent nuclear fuel, no requirement to fabricate and handle solid fuel, and a single isotopic composition of fuel in the reactor. These and other characteristics may enable MSRs to have potentially unique capabilities and competitive economics for actinide burning and extending fuel resources. The status, unique characteristics, and recent worldwide advances in MSRs are described. (author)« less
  • The advantages of burning fissile material from dismantled weapons in molten salt reactors (MSRs) are described. The fluid fuel MSRs with some, or full, processing are nondedicated reactors that generate energy and completely burn the fissile material on a continuous basis. No fuel fabrication is needed, and the entire dismantling can be done in a secure facility. Shipments are made in small, safe, and secure quantities. Denaturing, spiking, or mixing can be done at the source for added safety. MSRs are very safe reactors that help close the fuel cycle and simplify waste treatment, thereby contributing to acceptability. Additionally, MSRsmore » are expected to be economically competitive as electric power stations. The safety, security, simplicity, economy, and proliferation resistant properties support the deployment in countries that have the need.« less
  • Various methods have been proposed to “incinerate” or “transmutate” the current inventory of trans-uranic waste (TRU) that exits in spent light-water-reactor (LWR) fuel, and weapons plutonium. These methods include both critical (e.g., fast reactors) and non-critical (e.g., accelerator transmutation) systems. The work discussed here is part of a larger effort at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to investigate the suitability of lead and lead-alloy cooled fast reactors for producing low-cost electricity as well as for actinide burning. The neutronics of non-fertile fuel loaded with 20 or 30-wt% light watermore » reactor (LWR) plutonium plus minor actinides for use in a lead-bismuth cooled fast reactor are discussed in this paper, with an emphasis on the fuel cycle life and isotopic content. Calculations show that the average actinide burn rate is similar for both the sodium and lead-bismuth cooled cases ranging from -1.02 to -1.16 g/MWd, compared to a typical LWR actinide generation rate of 0.303 g/MWd. However, when using the same parameters, the sodium-cooled case went subcritical after 0.2 to 0.8 effective full power years, and the lead-bismuth cooled case ranged from 1.5 to 4.5 effective full power years.« less