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Performance of the Gas Turbine – Modular Helium Reactor fuelled with different types of fertile TRISO particles
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics.
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences (SCI), Physics.
2005 (English)In: Annals of Nuclear Energy, ISSN 0306-4549, E-ISSN 1873-2100, Vol. 32, no 16, 1719-1749 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Preliminary studies have been performed on operation of the gas turbine-modular helium reactor (GT-MHR) with a thorium based fuel. The major options for a thorium fuel are a mixture with light water reactors spent fuel, mixture with military plutonium or with with fissile isotopes of uranium. Consequently, we assumed three models of the fuel containing a mixture of thorium with 239Pu, 233U or 235U in TRISO particles with a different kernel radius keeping constant the packing fraction at the level of 37.5%, which corresponds to the current compacting process limit. In order to allow thorium to act as a breeder of fissile uranium and ensure conditions for a self-sustaining fission chain, the fresh fuel must contain a certain quantity of fissile isotope at beginning of life; we refer to the initial fissile nuclide as triggering isotope. The small capture cross-section of 232Th in the thermal neutron energy range, compared to the fission one of the common fissile isotopes (239Pu, 233U and 235U), requires a quantity of thorium 25-30 times greater than that one of the triggering isotope in order to equilibrate the reaction rates. At the same time, the amount of the triggering isotope must be enough to set the criticality condition of the reactor. These two conditions must be simultaneously satisfied. The necessity of a large mass of fuel forces to utilize TRISO particles with a large radius of the kernel, 300 μm. Moreover, in order to improve the neutron economics, a fuel cycle based on thorium requires a low capture to fission ratio of the triggering isotope. Amid the common fissile isotopes, 233U, 235U and 239Pu, we have found that only the uranium nuclides have shown to have the suitable neutronic features to enable the GT-MHR to work on a fuel based on thorium.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 32, no 16, 1719-1749 p.
Keyword [en]
Fission reactions, Gas turbines, Helium, Light water reactors, Plutonium, Radioisotopes, Spent fuels, Thorium, Uranium
National Category
Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-5546DOI: 10.1016/j.anucene.2005.06.006ISI: 000233056800002Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-27144433532OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-5546DiVA: diva2:9946
Note
QC 20100922Available from: 2006-04-05 Created: 2006-04-05 Last updated: 2017-11-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Advanced In-Core Fuel Cycles for the Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Advanced In-Core Fuel Cycles for the Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

In 1789 a German chemist, Martin Heinrich Klaproth, announced the discovery of a new element: uranium; few years later, the head of father of the modern chemistry, Antoine Lavoisier, was swept away by guillotine: a new era was destined to be opened, either where energy would have been produced in large scale by nuclear processes delivering hundreds of times the energy of chemical processes or where a mass of people, revolutionary or not, would have been melted down into a couple of seconds. After a quite long time, on the 2nd December 1942, the first nuclear reactor has been put into operation by Enrico Fermi in Chicago; few years later, came also the dark side utilization of fissile materials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since those moments, three power plants generations succeeded, until the current one which is the generation IV of nuclear reactors. The latter has the goal of generating electricity in a safe manner, for the core is designed to provide an effective passive cooling of the decay heat. Amid generation IV of nuclear power plants, the Gas Turbine – Modular Helium Reactor, designed by General Atomics, is the only core with an energy conversion efficiency of 50%; the above consideration, coupled to construction and operation costs lower than ordinary Light Water Reactors, renders the Gas Turbine – Modular Helium reactor rather unequaled.

In the present studies we investigated the possibility to operate the GT-MHR with two types of fuels: LWRs waste and thorium; since thorium is made of only fertile 232Th, we tried to mix it with pure 233U, 235U or 239Pu; ex post facto, only uranium isotopes allow the reactor operation, that induced us to examine the possibility to use a mixture of uranium, enriched 20% in 235U, and thorium. We performed all calculations by the MCNP and MCB codes, which allowed to model the reactor in a very detailed threedimensional geometry and to describe the nuclides transmutation in a continuous energy approach; finally, we completed our studies by verifying the influence of the major nuclear data libraries, JEFF, JENDL and ENDF/B, on the obtained results.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006. x,60 p.
Series
TRITA-FYS, ISSN 0280-316X ; 2006.25
National Category
Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3901 (URN)91-7178-328-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-04-21, Sal FA31, AlvaNova, Roslagstullsbacken 21, Stockholm, 14:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20100922

Available from: 2006-04-05 Created: 2006-04-05 Last updated: 2014-12-17Bibliographically approved

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