Evaluation of the Initial Isothermal Physics Measurements at the Fast Flux Test Facility, a Prototypic Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor

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The Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) was a 400-MWt, sodium-cooled, low-pressure, high-temperature, fast-neutron flux, nuclear fission reactor plant designed for the irradiation testing of nuclear reactor fuels and materials for the development of liquid metal fast breeder reactors (LMFBRs). The FFTF was fueled with plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) and reflected by Inconel-600. Westinghouse Hanford Company operated the FFTF as part of the Hanford Engineering Development Laboratory (HEDL) for the U.S. Department of Energy on the Hanford Site near Richland, Washington. Although the FFTF was a testing facility not specifically designed to breed fuel or produce electricity, it did provide valuable ... continued below

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Bess, John D. March 1, 2010.

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The Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) was a 400-MWt, sodium-cooled, low-pressure, high-temperature, fast-neutron flux, nuclear fission reactor plant designed for the irradiation testing of nuclear reactor fuels and materials for the development of liquid metal fast breeder reactors (LMFBRs). The FFTF was fueled with plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) and reflected by Inconel-600. Westinghouse Hanford Company operated the FFTF as part of the Hanford Engineering Development Laboratory (HEDL) for the U.S. Department of Energy on the Hanford Site near Richland, Washington. Although the FFTF was a testing facility not specifically designed to breed fuel or produce electricity, it did provide valuable information for LMFBR projects and base technology programs in the areas of plant system and component design, component fabrication, prototype testing, and site construction. The major objectives of the FFTF were to provide a strong, disciplined engineering base for the LMFBR program, provide fast flux testing for other U.S. programs, and contribute to the development of a viable self-sustaining competitive U.S. LMFBR industry. During its ten years of operation, the FFTF acted as a national research facility to test advanced nuclear fuels, materials, components, systems, nuclear power plant operating and maintenance procedures, and active and passive reactor safety technologies; it also produced a large number of isotopes for medical and industrial users, generated tritium for the U.S. fusion research program, and participated in cooperative, international research work. Prior to the implementation of the reactor characterization program, a series of isothermal physics measurements were performed; this acceptance testing program consisted of a series of control rod worths, critical rod positions, subcriticality measurements, maximum reactivity addition rates, shutdown margins, excess reactivity, and isothermal temperature coefficient reactivity. The results of these experiments were of particular importance because they provide extensive information which can be directly applied to the design of large LMFBR’s. It should be recognized that the data presented in the initial report were evaluated only to the extent necessary to ensure that adequate data were obtained. Later reports provided further interpretation and detailed comparisons with prediction techniques. The conclusion of the isothermal physics measurements was that the FFTF nuclear characteristics were essentially as designed and all safety requirements were satisfied. From a nuclear point of view, the FFTF was qualified to proceed into power operation mode. The FFTF was completed in 1978 and first achieved criticality on February 9, 1980. Upon completion of the isothermal physics and reactor characterization programs, the FFTF operated for ten years from April 1982 to April 1992. Reactor operations of the FFTF were terminated and the reactor facility was then defueled, deactivated, and placed into cold standby condition. Deactivation of the reactor was put on hold from 1996 to 2000 while the U.S. Department of Energy examined alternative uses for the FFTF but then announced the permanent deactivation of the FFTF in December 2001. Its core support basket was later drilled in May 2005, so as to remove all remaining sodium coolant. On April 17, 2006, the American Nuclear Society designated the FFTF as a “National Nuclear Historic Landmark”.

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  • Report No.: INL/EXT-09-16524
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • DOI: 10.2172/983334 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 983334
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1013078

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  • March 1, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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  • Nov. 3, 2017, 4:33 p.m.

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Bess, John D. Evaluation of the Initial Isothermal Physics Measurements at the Fast Flux Test Facility, a Prototypic Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor, report, March 1, 2010; Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1013078/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.