Nuclear Technology / Volume 183 / Number 1 / July 2013 / Pages 30-44
Technical Paper / Fuel Cycle and Management
The production of transuranic actinide fuels for use in current thermal reactors provides a useful intermediary step in closing the nuclear fuel cycle. Extraction of actinides reduces the longevity, radiation, and heat loads of spent material. The burning of transuranic (TRU) fuels in current reactors for a limited amount of cycles reduces the infrastructure demand for fast reactors and provides an effective synergy that can result in a reduction of as much as 95% of spent fuel waste while significantly reducing the fast reactor infrastructure needed. This paper examines the features of actinide mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, TRUMOX, in a CANDU® nuclear reactor. The actinide concentrations used were based on extraction from 30-year-cooled spent fuel and mixed with natural uranium in 3.1 wt% actinide MOX fuel. Full lattice cell modeling was performed using the WIMS-AECL code, supercell calculations were analyzed in DRAGON, and full-core analysis was executed in the RFSP two-group diffusion code. A time-average full-core model was produced and analyzed for reactor coefficients, reactivity device worth, and online fueling impacts. The standard CANDU operational limits were maintained throughout operations. The TRUMOX fuel design achieved a burnup of 29.91 MWd/kg heavy element and an actinide transmutation rate of 35% for a single pass. A fully TRUMOX-fueled CANDU was shown to operate within acceptable limits and provided a viable intermediary step for burning actinides. The recycling, reprocessing, and reuse of spent fuels produces a much more sustainable and efficient nuclear fuel cycle.