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Neutron Transport and Nuclear Burnup Analysis for the Laser Inertial Confinement Fusion-Fission Energy (LIFE) Engine

Kevin J. Kramer, Jeffery F. Latkowski, Ryan P. Abbott, John K. Boyd, Jeffrey J. Powers, Jeffrey E. Seifried

Fusion Science and Technology / Volume 56 / Number 2 / August 2009 / Pages 625-631

Laser Fusion-Fission Hybrid / Eighteenth Topical Meeting on the Technology of Fusion Energy (Part 2)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is currently developing a hybrid fusion-fission nuclear energy system, called LIFE, to generate power and burn nuclear waste. We utilize inertial confinement fusion to drive a subcritical fission blanket surrounding the fusion chamber. It is composed of TRISO-based fuel cooled by the molten salt flibe. Low-yield (37.5 MJ) targets and a repetition rate of 13.3 Hz produce a 500 MW fusion source that is coupled to the subcritical blanket, which provides an additional gain of 4-8, depending on the fuel.

In the present work, we describe the neutron transport and nuclear burnup analysis. We utilize standard analysis tools including, the Monte Carlo N-Particle (MCNP) transport code, ORIGEN2 and Monte burns to perform the nuclear design. These analyses focus primarily on a fuel composed of depleted uranium not requiring chemical reprocessing or enrichment. However, other fuels such as weapons grade plutonium and highly-enriched uranium are also under consideration. In addition, we have developed a methodology using 6Li as a burnable poison to replace the tritium burned in the fusion targets and to maintain constant power over the lifetime of the engine. The results from depleted uranium analyses suggest up to 99% burnup of actinides is attainable while maintaining full power at 2GW for more than five decades.

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