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Home / Publications / Journals / Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 163 / Number 3

Actinide Transmutation in PWRs Using CONFU Assemblies

M. Visosky, Y. Shatilla, P. Hejzlar, M. S. Kazimi

Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 163 / Number 3 / November 2009 / Pages 215-242

Technical Paper /

Expansion of domestic use of nuclear power to provide energy security and environmental sustainability requires minimization of the nuclear waste. To achieve this goal in the short term, transmutation of transuranic (TRU) elements in COmbined Non-Fertile and UO2 (CONFU) Generation-III pressurized water reactor (PWR) assemblies is evaluated. These assemblies are composed of a mix of standard UO2 fuel pins and pins made of recycled TRU in an inert matrix and are designed to fit in currently deployed PWRs. Previous studies have shown the feasibility of a CONFU-Equilibrium (CONFU-E) assembly design with a net TRU balance between production and destruction and a CONFU-Burndown (CONFU-B) assembly design with net destruction of TRU coming from several reactors. In this paper, a CONFU-self-Contained (CONFU-C) assembly is shown to achieve net TRU destruction in a self-contained TRU multirecycling system. Both the CONFU-B and CONFU-C designs are presented in this paper in detail.

For these designs a detailed assembly-level neutronic analysis has been performed using CASMO-4 to investigate cycle length, TRU management performance, and key reactor reactivity parameters, along with detailed intraassembly power peaking factors (IAPPFs). Various fuel mixing schemes and cooling times were evaluated. Using the IAPPF results, a full core thermal-hydraulic analysis using VIPRE was performed to validate thermal margins, and a loss-of-coolant-accident event was assessed using RELAP5. Based on the TRU management characteristics of these designs, metrics were developed to reflect the material handling difficulties of the multirecycled fuel, along with its repository impact. These parameters were compared to a standard once-through UO2 cycle, along with other Pu or TRU multirecycling schemes [mixed oxide with enriched uranium (MOX-UE) and COmbustible Recyclage A ILot (CORAIL)]. Finally, an economic analysis has been conducted to compare the fuel cycle cost (FCC) associated with these designs.

TRU management results of CONFU-B and CONFU-C showed a net TRU destruction of 2 to 20 kg/TWh(electric) generated, with an FCC of 12 to 15 mills/kWh(electric), depending on the mixing strategy and cooling time chosen. Reactor control parameters and thermal margins were found to be comparable to an all-UO2 assembly. While both designs offer significant repository benefits, the accumulation of minor actinides may limit the practicality of fuel multirecycling.

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