Fusion-Fission Hybrid for Fissile Fuel Production without Processing

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Two scenarios are typically envisioned for thorium fuel cycles: 'open' cycles based on irradiation of {sup 232}Th and fission of {sup 233}U in situ without reprocessing or 'closed' cycles based on irradiation of {sup 232}Th followed by reprocessing, and recycling of {sup 233}U either in situ or in critical fission reactors. This study evaluates a third option based on the possibility of breeding fissile material in a fusion-fission hybrid reactor and burning the same fuel in a critical reactor without any reprocessing or reconditioning. This fuel cycle requires the hybrid and the critical reactor to use the same fuel form. ... continued below

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PDF-file: 24 pages; size: 0.4 Mbytes

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Fratoni, M; Moir, R W; Kramer, K J; Latkowski, J F; Meier, W R & Powers, J J January 2, 2012.

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Description

Two scenarios are typically envisioned for thorium fuel cycles: 'open' cycles based on irradiation of {sup 232}Th and fission of {sup 233}U in situ without reprocessing or 'closed' cycles based on irradiation of {sup 232}Th followed by reprocessing, and recycling of {sup 233}U either in situ or in critical fission reactors. This study evaluates a third option based on the possibility of breeding fissile material in a fusion-fission hybrid reactor and burning the same fuel in a critical reactor without any reprocessing or reconditioning. This fuel cycle requires the hybrid and the critical reactor to use the same fuel form. TRISO particles embedded in carbon pebbles were selected as the preferred form of fuel and an inertial laser fusion system featuring a subcritical blanket was combined with critical pebble bed reactors, either gas-cooled or liquid-salt-cooled. The hybrid reactor was modeled based on the earlier, hybrid version of the LLNL Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE1) system, whereas the critical reactors were modeled according to the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) and the Pebble Bed Advanced High Temperature Reactor (PB-AHTR) design. An extensive neutronic analysis was carried out for both the hybrid and the fission reactors in order to track the fuel composition at each stage of the fuel cycle and ultimately determine the plant support ratio, which has been defined as the ratio between the thermal power generated in fission reactors and the fusion power required to breed the fissile fuel burnt in these fission reactors. It was found that the maximum attainable plant support ratio for a thorium fuel cycle that employs neither enrichment nor reprocessing is about 2. This requires tuning the neutron energy towards high energy for breeding and towards thermal energy for burning. A high fuel loading in the pebbles allows a faster spectrum in the hybrid blanket; mixing dummy carbon pebbles with fuel pebbles enables a softer spectrum in the critical reactors. This combination consumes about 20% of the thorium initially loaded in the hybrid reactor ({approx}200 GWd/tHM), partially during hybrid operation, but mostly during operation in the critical reactor. The plant support ratio is low compared to the one attainable using continuous fuel chemical reprocessing, which can yield a plant support ratio of about 20, but the resulting fuel cycle offers better proliferation resistance as fissile material is never separated from the other fuel components.

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PDF-file: 24 pages; size: 0.4 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: LLNL-TR-522137
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/1034500 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1034500
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc843389

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

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • January 2, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 7, 2016, 2:55 p.m.

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Fratoni, M; Moir, R W; Kramer, K J; Latkowski, J F; Meier, W R & Powers, J J. Fusion-Fission Hybrid for Fissile Fuel Production without Processing, report, January 2, 2012; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc843389/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.