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Home / Publications / Journals / Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 141 / Number 2 / Pages 111-128

A Mixed-Oxide Assembly Design for Rapid Disposition of Weapons Plutonium in Pressurized Water Reactors

Gustavo Alonso, Marvin L. Adams

Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 141 / Number 2 / June 2002 / Pages 111-128

Technical Paper

We have created a new mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel assembly design for standard pressurized water reactors (PWRs). Design goals were to maximize the plutonium throughput while introducing the lowest perturbation possible to the control and safety systems of the reactor. Our assembly design, which we call MIX-33, offers some advantages for the disposition of weapons-grade plutonium; it increases the disposition rate by 8% while increasing the worth of control material, compared to a previous Westinghouse design. The MIX-33 design is based upon two ideas: the use of both uranium and plutonium fuel pins in the same assembly, and the addition of water holes in the assembly. The main result of this paper is that both of these ideas are effective at increasing Pu throughput and increasing the worth of control material. With this new design, according to our analyses, we can transition smoothly from a full low-enriched-uranium (LEU) core to a full MIX-33 core while meeting the operational and safety requirements of a standard PWR. Given an interruption of the MOX supply, we can transition smoothly back to full LEU while meeting safety margins and using standard LEU assemblies with uniform pinwise enrichment distribution. If the MOX supply is interrupted for only one cycle, the transition back to a full MIX-33 core is not as smooth; high peaking could cause power to be derated by a few percent for a few weeks at the beginning of one transition cycle.

 
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