Status of Preconceptual Design of the Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR)

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A new reactor plant concept is presented that combines the benefits of ceramic-coated, high-temperature particle fuel with those of clean, high-temperature, low-pressure molten salt coolant. The Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) concept is a collaboration of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of California at Berkeley. The purpose of the concept is to provide an advanced design capable of satisfying the top-level functional requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), while also providing a technology base that is sufficiently robust to allow future development paths to higher temperatures and larger outputs with ... continued below

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Ingersoll, D.T. July 29, 2004.

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A new reactor plant concept is presented that combines the benefits of ceramic-coated, high-temperature particle fuel with those of clean, high-temperature, low-pressure molten salt coolant. The Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) concept is a collaboration of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of California at Berkeley. The purpose of the concept is to provide an advanced design capable of satisfying the top-level functional requirements of the U.S. Department of Energy Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), while also providing a technology base that is sufficiently robust to allow future development paths to higher temperatures and larger outputs with highly competitive economics. This report summarizes the status of the AHTR preconceptual design. It captures the results from an intense effort over a period of 3 months to (1) screen and examine potential feasibility concerns with the concept; (2) refine the conceptual design of major systems; and (3) identify research, development, and technology requirements to fully mature the AHTR design. Several analyses were performed and are presented to quantify the AHTR performance expectations and to assist in the selection of several design parameters. The AHTR, like other NGNP reactor concepts, uses coated particle fuel in a graphite matrix. But unlike the other NGNP concepts, the AHTR uses molten salt rather than helium as the primary system coolant. The considerable previous experience with molten salts in nuclear environments is discussed, and the status of high-temperature materials is reviewed. The large thermal inertia of the system, the excellent heat transfer and fission product retention characteristics of molten salt, and the low-pressure operation of the primary system provide significant safety attributes for the AHTR. Compared with helium coolant, a molten salt cooled reactor will have significantly lower fuel temperatures (150-200-C lower) for the equivalent temperature of heat delivered to either the power conversion system or a hydrogen production plant. Using a comparative cost analysis, the construction costs per unit output are projected to be 50-55% of the costs for modular gas-cooled or sodium-cooled reactor systems. This is primarily a consequence of substantially larger power output and higher conversion efficiency for the AHTR. The AHTR has a number of unique technical challenges in meeting the NGNP requirements; however, it appears to offer advantages over high-temperature helium-cooled reactors and provides an alternative development path to achieve the NGNP requirements. Primary challenges include optimizing the core design for improved response to transients, designing an internal blanket to thermally protect the reactor vessel, and engineering solutions to high-temperature refueling and maintenance.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2004/104
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/861752 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 861752
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc794727

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • July 29, 2004

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Dec. 19, 2015, 7:14 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 2, 2016, 12:39 p.m.

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Ingersoll, D.T. Status of Preconceptual Design of the Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR), report, July 29, 2004; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc794727/: accessed July 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.