Characteristics of a Mixed Thorium - Uranium Dioxide High-Burnup Fuel

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Future nuclear fuel must satisfy three sets of requirements: longer times between refueling; concerns for weapons proliferation; and development of a spent fuel form more suitable for direct geologic disposal. This project has investigated a fuel consisting of mixed thorium and uranium dioxide to satisfy these requirements. Results using the SCALE 4.3 code system indicated that the mixed Th-U fuel could be burned to 72 MWD/kg or 100 MWD/kg using 25% and 35% UO2 respectively. The uranium remained below 20 % total fissile fraction throughout the cycle, making it unusable for weapons. Total plutonium production per MWD was a factor ... continued below

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Herring, James Stephen & Mac Donald, Philip Elsworth June 1, 1999.

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Future nuclear fuel must satisfy three sets of requirements: longer times between refueling; concerns for weapons proliferation; and development of a spent fuel form more suitable for direct geologic disposal. This project has investigated a fuel consisting of mixed thorium and uranium dioxide to satisfy these requirements. Results using the SCALE 4.3 code system indicated that the mixed Th-U fuel could be burned to 72 MWD/kg or 100 MWD/kg using 25% and 35% UO2 respectively. The uranium remained below 20 % total fissile fraction throughout the cycle, making it unusable for weapons. Total plutonium production per MWD was a factor of 4.5 less in the Th-U fuel than in the conventional fuel; Pu-239 production per MWD was a factor of 6.5 less; and the plutonium produced was high in Pu-238, leading to a decay heat 5 times greater than that from plutonium derived from conventional fuel and 40 times greater than weapons grade plutonium. High decay heat would require active cooling of any crude weapon, lest the components surrounding the plutonium be melted. Spontaneous neutron production for plutonium from Th-U fuel was 2.3 times greater than that from conventional fuel and 15 times greater than that from weapons grade plutonium. High spontaneous neutron production drastically limits the probable yield of a crude weapon. Because ThO2 is the highest oxide of thorium, while UO2 can be oxidized further to U3O8, ThO2- UO2 fuel may be a superior wasteform if the spent fuel is ever to be exposed to oxygenated water. Even if the cost of fabricating the mixed Th-U fuel is $100/kg greater, the cost of the Th-U fuel is 13% to 25% less than that of the fuels using uranium only.

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  • ANS 1999 Annual Meeting,Boston, MA,06/06/1999,06/10/1999

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  • Report No.: INEEL/CON-99-00141
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-99ID-13727
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 911390
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc877888

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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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  • June 1, 1999

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 10:12 p.m.

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Herring, James Stephen & Mac Donald, Philip Elsworth. Characteristics of a Mixed Thorium - Uranium Dioxide High-Burnup Fuel, article, June 1, 1999; [Idaho Falls, Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc877888/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.