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On Possibilities for Transmutation of Nuclear Waste and Energy Production with a "Straight Field Line Mirror" Neutron Source

O. Ågren, V. E. Moiseenko, K. Noack, A. Hagnestål

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 55 / Number 2T / February 2009 / Pages 46-51

Technical Paper / Seventh International Conference on Open Magnetic Systems for Plasma Confinement /

A pure fusion mirror device suffers from the predicted low values of the Q factor (energy gain factor). A much higher energy production may be achieved in a fusion-fission reactor, where the fusion plasma neutron source is surrounded by a fission mantle. The fusion neutrons are capable of initiating energy producing fission reactions in the surrounding mantle. A mirror machine can probably be designed to provide sufficient space for a 1.1 m wide fission mantle inside the current coils, and the power production from the fission reactions can in such a case exceed the fusion power by more than two orders of magnitude (Pfis/Pfus [is approximately equal to] 150), suggesting a realistic reactor regime for a mirror based fusion-fission device. An energy producing device may operate with an electron temperature around 1 keV. Transmutation of long-lived radio active isotopes (minor actinides) from spent nuclear fuel from fission reactors can reduce geological storage from 100 000 years to only 300 years. Since the energy of D-T fusion neutrons are above the threshold for the most important transmutation reactions desired for treatment of nuclear waste, there may be an interest for a mirror transmutation device even if no net energy is produced. Recent theoretical simulations have considered the possibility to use the Gas Dynamic Trap (GDT) at Novosibirsk as a subcritical burner for transmutation by fusion neutrons. In the present work, possibilities for mirror based fusion-fission machines are discussed. Means to achieve sufficient end confinement for a straight field line mirror fusion-fission system with a thermal barrier are briefly analyzed. End leakage can alternatively be avoided by connecting the ends of a magnetic mirror with a stellerator tube, while the fusion neutrons are produced in the mirror part where a high energy sloshing ion component is confined. A zero dimensional model for such a mirror-stellarator system has been developed. The computed results indicate some possible parameter regimes for industrial transmutation and power production.

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