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Studies on Reactivity Coefficients of Thorium-Based Fuel (Th-233U)O2 with Molten Salt (Flibe) Cooled Pebble

Indrajeet Singh, Anurag Gupta, Umasankari Kannan

Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 191 / Number 2 / August 2018 / Pages 161-177

Technical Note /

Received:November 14, 2017
Accepted:April 7, 2018
Published:July 13, 2018

A combination of the neutronics features of gas-cooled high-temperature reactors by using the fuel in the form of ceramic-coated particles, called tristructural-isotropic, and the heat removal feature of molten salt reactors by using molten salt as a coolant is an attractive option in designing a reactor with a high-power density operation without compromising the safety aspects. Neutronics feasibility of such a combination of the molten salt (LiF-BeF2) as a coolant and thorium-based fuel, in particular (Th-233U)O2, in a graphite-moderated system is investigated. This technical note presents the influence of the heavy metal (HM) loading on neutronics features of a pebble lattice cell, that is, infinite multiplication factor (K-inf), temperature coefficients of reactivity (TCR), the void reactivity coefficient, etc. In addition, enriched uranium fuel has also been studied just to make a comparison with thorium-based fuel. Furthermore, the minimum HM loading of fuel per pebble that is needed to achieve negative coolant-temperature reactivity coefficients and void reactivity coefficients has been estimated for molten salt coolant.

The analyses show that Th2/U3 fuel gives a less negative fuel temperature reactivity coefficient as compared with that of uranium-based fuel. This study also shows that all the TCR of both fuel types improve, becoming less positive or more negative, by increasing HM loading per pebble. Further, the burnup dependence of K-inf and the reactivity coefficients are studied for limiting HM loadings, e.g., 30 g per pebble. The change in the spectrum and the four-factor formula are used to explain the behavior of the reactivity coefficients as a function of HM loading and burnup.