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Analysis of the Effects of Radiolytic-Gas Bubbles on the Operation of Solution Reactors for the Production of Medical Isotopes

Francisco J. Souto, Robert H. Kimpland, A. Sharif Heger

Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 150 / Number 3 / July 2005 / Pages 322-335

Technical Paper

One of the primary methods to produce medical isotopes, such as 99Mo, is by irradiation of uranium targets in heterogeneous reactors. Solution reactors present a potential alternative to produce medical isotopes. The Medical Isotope Production Reactor (MIPR) concept has been proposed to produce medical isotopes with lower uranium consumption and waste than those in heterogeneous reactors. Commercial production of medical isotopes in solution reactors requires steady-state operation at ~200 kW. At this power regime, fuel-solution temperature increase and radiolytic-gas bubble formation introduce a negative reactivity feedback that has to be mitigated. A model based on the point reactor kinetic equations has been developed to investigate these reactivity effects. This model has been validated against experimental results from the Los Alamos National Laboratory uranyl fluoride Solution High-Energy Burst Assembly (SHEBA) and shows the feasibility of solution reactors for the commercial production of medical isotopes.

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