Nuclear Technology / Volume 170 / Number 3 / June 2010 / Pages 416-421
Technical Paper / Fuel Cycle and Management
Transuranic (TRU) conversion ratio is a key cost driver of the advanced fuel cycle. The reactor capacity required to consume the national TRU inventory increases as conversion ratio increases. Achieving zero conversion ratio with metal alloy or oxide fuels is fraught with technical challenges. These difficulties can be overcome by hydriding the metal alloy fuel. In this paper, we present the novel concept of using a uranium-free hydrided metal alloy fuel to achieve zero conversion ratio. A reactor core composed of this novel fuel and that would fit in the Sodium Advanced Fast Reactor core geometry was developed; core performance and TRU consumption is estimated and presented. Concerns about the safety of uranium-free fuels are addressed. Although the Doppler effect is nonexistent in a uranium-free fast core, a substantial Doppler effect is present with the uranium-free hydrided metal alloy fuel.